Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters have a lot in common with the tea party, but tea partiers and conservatives gathered for the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. this week seriously beg to differ.
"These counter-culturists that are there, they are not in the numbers that the tea party is in . . . .They don't know why they're there," Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a member of the House tea party caucus, told The Ticket on Friday. "I don't think they'll be able to create a leftist mirror image of the tea party."
King and others gathered for the socially conservative summit disparaged the Wall Street protesters as disorganized, unlawful and inauthentic. The conservative activists also charged that the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters are working to boost Biden and the Obama administration's agenda.
King said he has gone "dressed-down incognito" to walk "walk among" folks such as those protesting, and said that they basically amount to "anarchists, communists, socialists, the [socialist] Workers World party," as well as union members.
Biden argued Thursday during a forum sponsored by The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C.. that Wall Street protesters and the tea party share common ground in that they believe something unfair is going on, they are angry over federal bailouts, and they are frustrated with the political status quo.
But conservatives at the Friday Values Voter summit were insulted by the attempt to link the two movements.
"That's a real stretch. I can't see anything other than protesting that would link the two groups," Gary Bauer, head of the conservative group American Values, told The Ticket on Friday. Bauer said the two groups are pursuing opposite missions and are composed of wildly different people. Bauer added that "a lot of those people in the tea party were new to politics."
Many conservatives gathered for Friday's summit noted the apparent lack of focus of the Wall Street protests as a reason why they can't stand up in a comparison with the tea party.
"First of all, the Wall Street protests are being done by a collection of people who have no unified message," William Temple, a tea party activist and pastor who dresses up in period colonial costume for tea party events told The Ticket. "But more importantly, what they do, they do illegally."
Temple, who helped organize the tea party march on Washington in Sept. 2009, said tea partiers respect and work with authority--a pointed contrast with the methods favored among the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrators.
Other participants at the Values Voter summit agreed. "Tea partiers are protesting government taking over things, whereas this protest... seems kind of staged to me. Why now?" Mark Moore, a self-identified tea partier from Harrisburg, Penn said Friday. They seem to be asking "what kind of damage can I do?"
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