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'Tea party' group to boycott Mitt Romney speech

August 31, 2011|By James Oliphant
(Justin Sullivan/Getty…)

While Mitt Romney appears to be tacking right to counter the rise of Rick Perry as a presidential contender, not everyone is willing to go along for the ride.

FreedomWorks, a "tea party"-affiliated advocacy group, said that it’s pulling out of a tea party event this weekend in New Hampshire because Romney has been invited to speak. It also objected to a speech given earlier in the national “Reclaiming America” tour given by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah.

“Mitt Romney and Orrin Hatch have actively and consistently supported expanding the role of government through government-run healthcare, Wall Street bailouts and spending hikes. Those positions are unacceptable to the tea party principles of lower taxes, less government and more freedom,” FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said in a statement Wednesday.

It’s the latest example of the schism in the party between establishment politicians such as Romney and Hatch and the tea party movement. In an apparent bid to court the latter, Romney switched his speech at a rally in New Hampshire from Monday to Sunday and decided to attend a forum organized by Sen. Jim DeMint in South Carolina on Labor Day after first declining to participate.

FreedomWorks will instead protest Romney’s speech Sunday in Concord, N.H., along with members of the New Hampshire tea party. Kibbe suggested the former Massachusetts governor was pandering to the movement.

 “One of the great successes of the decentralized tea party movement has been its ability to self-police,” Kibbe said. “If every political opportunist claiming to be a tea partier is accepted unconditionally, then the tea party brand loses all meaning. Our grass-roots activists will be in New Hampshire on Sunday to defend the tea party ideas of small government and fiscal responsibility, and to remind Mitt Romney that when it comes to policy, actions speak louder than words.”

The “Reclaiming America” bus tour, sponsored by Tea Party Express, ends Sept. 12 in Tampa, Fla., where the group will co-sponsor a GOP presidential debate with CNN.

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