(Photo: REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)
With little more than two weeks until the coveted Iowa causes, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is trying to garner last-minute support from the Tea Party. The topsy-turvy GOP presidential race has left few things constant these past few months. But one thing that has remained the same is Romney’s lack of support from Tea Party members.
“I would love to have the support of your team,” Romney told Tea Party Patriots National Coordinator Jenny Beth Martin Sunday night at a TPP convention, according to The Daily Caller.
“The Tea Party Patriots are making a big impact in the country, and I would love to have your help,” he said.
However, the TPP straw poll results were announced that same night and Romney did not receive the support he asked for. Gingrich came in first place with 31 percent of the votes; Bachmann followed with 28 percent; and Romney trailed in third place with 20 percent of the votes. More than 23,000 Tea Party supporters nationwide participated and voted on their top selection for the GOP nomination.
“An overwhelming number of activists from around the nation showed they are serious about electing a candidate who advances Tea Party principles,” said Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, in a released statement. “Just as in 2010, candidates like Newt Gingrich will need to show they will be fiscally responsible and protect the Constitution in the White House.”
Fifty percent of the participants said they were neutral, a little enthused, or not enthused at all about a Romney nomination.
However, that does not mean they won’t support the former Massachusetts governor should he get the nod from the GOP establishment.
“All candidates – including Romney – have responded to the primary message of the Tea Party which is small government,” Sal Russo, co-founder of the Tea Party Express, told The Christian Post.
“Any candidate would be an improvement over Barack Obama, who has been a disastrous president. The Tea Party is going to support whichever candidate can beat Obama in the end.”
Each candidate had 10 minutes to answer questions at the TPP event. The questions were provided beforehand by local tea party coordinators from across the country.
Romney used his time to discuss Obama’s health care overhaul and the steps he would take to repeal it. He also denounced crony capitalism and vowed to reform the tax code.
Both topics are Tea Party hot button issues.
This past week while campaigning in South Carolina, another early voting state, Romney told The Associated Press that he was not too worried about Gingrich’s rise in the polls and apparent favor among some Tea Party activists. Instead, he thinks that as voters learn more about Gingrich, his time as a Washington insider and his dealings with the mortgage company Freddie Mac, voters will be less inclined to support the former speaker of the House.
"I think as tea partiers concentrate on that, for instance, they'll say, `Wow, this really isn't the guy that would represent our views,"' Romney said after a town hall meeting with South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott, according to AP.
"Many Tea Party folks, I believe, are going to find me to be the ideal candidate."