Sen. James Inhofe, one of the most conservative Republicans in the Senate, rejects the idea that poorly vetted Tea Party candidates cost the GOP control of the Senate, as some other Republicans have suggested.

In a phone interview with The Hill, Inhofe derailed as "absolutely false" the argument put forward recently by Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who said in a recent interview with an Alabama newspaper that Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin "cost us control of the Senate" and that Tea Party candidates generally underperformed in Senate races.

"The Senate would be Republican today except for states (in which Palin endorsed candidates) like Christine O'Donnell in Delaware," Bachus said. "Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate."

But Inhofe said the Tea Party movement was an asset.

"I applaud all the Tea Party candidates," he said. "They went the hard way, they did it through hard work and they stood up for the real issues — the debt, the deficit, ObamaCare. Those are the real issues. The Tea Party is the real reason we picked up the seats we did pick up."

Palin pushed back at Bachus in an e-mail to The Daily Caller on Tuesday, saying, "No wonder he’s not thrilled with people like me, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and all the others who also endorsed commonsense conservative candidates.”