- (Photo: REUTERS / Robert Galbraith)
A self-described Tea Party member is urging Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann to bow out of the GOP presidential race, stating that her "floundering" campaign is "hurting the credibility" of the movement.
Ned Ryun, president of political leadership group American Majority, has emphatically declared, "It's time for Michele Bachmann to go" in a Wednesday blog post. Bachmann, he wrote, continues to hold tight to "thin talking points" while other candidates are discussing economic plans.
Ryun, a former speech writer for George W. Bush, fears the longer Bachmann stays in the race, the more likely she is to go off topic and stray from the Tea Party polls of fiscal responsibility and limited government.
Ryun co-founded and directed Christian leadership group Generation Joshua and identifies himself as a pro-life evangelical as well as a Tea Party member. But the Tea Party's agenda, he noted, is primarily about fiscal conservatism.
"The Tea Party as a whole was founded on the principle that the American people are being enslaved by their government's unquenchable appetite for spending, debt and the taxation that limits our freedom, and that the future of this great nation has been endangered by our leaders' reckless behavior," Ryun said.
He predicts that the Tea Party's message of fiscal conservatism will have broad appeal in 2012 and believes that the eventual Republican nominee should stick steadfastly to that message rather than veer off into social issues.
"The longer Bachmann stays in the race, the more likely we will see her shift to the right," Ryun said.
Judson Phillips, president of Tea Party Nation, told The Christian Post that he disagrees with Ryun's assessment of Bachmann's campaign.
"I am more concerned about your vision and your core beliefs because what's going to happen when you get up to Washington [is] the president is not a dictator. The president, whatever agenda he or she has, you have to run it through [both the U.S. Senate and Congress]," he commented.
Though he personally supports Newt Gingrich, Phillips praised Bachman as a "very passionate, articulate voice for the Tea Party movement."
He also dismissed Ryun as a "Washington insider" who does not have the "stripes" to speak for the movement.
Though the Tea Party is a leaderless movement, Bachmann has spoken for the Tea Party as its caucus leader on Capitol Hill and as the chosen speaker for the Tea Party's response to President Barack Obama's 2011 State of the Union address.
Yet her name has dropped in the polls since she won Iowa's August straw poll with 29 percent of the vote. She has now fallen below Texas Congressman Ron Paul and former House Speaker Gingrich with 5 percent ballot support, according to pollster group Gallup. Her positive intensity score – which supposedly measures the excitement of her national campaign – has also faltered from rivaling front-runner Herman Cain to below all of the mainstream candidates except for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.
Phillips dismissed concerns that Bachmann's struggling campaign could harm the Tea Party's credibility. Many of the GOP candidates have connected with Tea Party members and are projecting its fiscal message, he said.
Ryun described Bachmann's campaign as currently trying to "stay relevant and sell books." Bachmann is set to release a book titled Core of Conviction next month.
"If she really is about the tea party, and making it successful, it's time for the congresswoman to move on," he wrote.
Phillips, meanwhile, observed, "There's just such a volatile electorate" right now. He believes Bachmann may still have a shot in Iowa and said she should step down "when she's ready."