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Grassroots Or Big Money?

Tea Party candidates are making inroads in big Congressional races.  But who’s driving them into office?  The grassroots?  Or billionaire donors?

Texas Republican Senate candidate Ted Cruz speaks to the media Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, in Houston a day after trouncing Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a runoff. (AP)

Texas Republican Senate candidate Ted Cruz speaks to the media Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, in Houston a day after trouncing Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a runoff. (AP)

America’s rough and ready Tea Party was indisputably triumphant in 2010, flooding Capitol Hill with a fiery conservative freshman class in the House.  Then the pumped-up rallies and town hall meetings died away.  Word on the street was that the Tea Party’s day in the sun had passed.  Well, maybe not.

It’s quieter now, but it’s happy to tell you it’s chalking up victories.  A US Senate majority is the big target.  Thumping conservatives with Tea Party backers are winning primaries.  And big bucks.  So is it the people?  The money?  The message?

This hour, On Point:  Tea Party politics, 2012.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent for The Washington Post.

John Geer, chair of the political science department at Vanderbilt University.

Sal Russo, chief strategist for the Tea Party Express.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post “A month ago, many people in this state presumed that Tommy G. Thompson — still a household name here after serving an unprecedented four terms as governor — had a lock on the Republican nomination for the Senate.”

ABC News “Today, Republicans in the Show Me State will pick a challenger for Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, and the dominant wings of the conservative movement can find niche appeal in the three GOP contestants: a tea partier endorsed by Sarah Palin, a businessman backed by the Chamber of Commerce, and a social conservative who’s pursued the state’s Christian voters.”

CBS News “Sarah Palin is mounting an aggressive campaign in Missouri — in television and radio ads, in automated telephone calls, even serving barbecued pork sandwiches at a rural political picnic. She’s urging residents to vote for Sarah — Sarah Steelman, one of three Republicans in a prickly U.S. Senate primary.”

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