Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) argued that the GOP continues to benefit from the Tea Party.
Lee's comments, made during an interview Friday with Laura Ingraham on Fox News's "The O'Reilly Factor" came after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) deemphasized the influence of the Tea Party in the House. In a recent interview with ABC News, Boehner said that "We don't have a Tea Party Caucus to speak of in the House." He added that "all of us who were elected in 2010 were supported by the Tea Party."
"I'm not sure what his intent was. And he's not here to speak for himself. But what I can say is that this party has benefited because of the grassroots conservative political movement that started in 2009. Some have called it the Tea Party," Lee said. "That brought us a Republican victory in 2010 in the House it brought us some victories in the Senate. And it has continued to benefit the party in the 2012 election cycle."
Earlier in the week, a number of top Republicans signaled an openness to working with Democrats on massive compromises on immigration and avoiding tax rate increases and spending cuts that would occur if legislators can't come to a deal on deficit reduction. Lee said that it was important that Republicans not to move to the center in negotiating those deals.
"The whole idea of this movement is to make us more ideologically consistent in our conservatism," Lee said. "To help us sell this policy, this message that says look whether you are a woman or whether you are Hispanic or of some other background you will benefit as the government gets out of your way."