Civil war: Tea party group invites Romney to speak, sparking protests by tea party group

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Chris Moody
·Political Reporter
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The tea party has split over Mitt Romney.

FreedomWorks, a Washington, D.C.-based tea party organization led by former House majority leader Dick Armey, will protest during a New Hampshire rally this weekend sponsored by the California-based Tea Party Express. The reason for the protest: the Tea Party Express invited Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, to the event.

The president of FreedomWorks, Matt Kibbe, pointed to what he referred to as Romney's support for "government-run health care, Wall Street bailouts and spending hikes," in a statement explaining the reasons for the counter-rally in Concord.

"One of the great successes of the decentralized tea party movement has been its ability to self-police. If every political opportunist claiming to be a tea partier is accepted unconditionally, then the tea party brand loses all meaning," Kibbe said in the statement. "Our grassroots 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."

Calling FreedomWorks' announcement a "a misguided press stunt," a release from Tea Party Express defended its invitation to Romney and said the "tour is open to presidential candidates who want to speak to the tea party." The group noted that Romney will also make an appearance in South Carolina this weekend at a candidate forum hosted by Jim DeMint, the Republican senator from South Carolina who is an ally of the tea party.

"It's just silly to protest a tea party where Governor Romney is speaking," the release said. "It would be just as ridiculous to protest Senator DeMint's gathering on Monday, to which Romney has also been invited. Narrow mindedness is not the way to strengthen the tea party movement."

News of the protest comes on the same day that Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor, announced that she was considering dropping out of a tea party rally hosted by a third group, Tea Party of America.