Does the Tea Party now support politicians who favored bailouts and the ObamaCare individual mandate? Such a statement sounds like an oxymoronic joke, about as likely as a pacifist who backs war or an atheist for Jesus. But the answer, according to exit polls from New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida primaries, is an emphatic “yes.” According to each of these exit polls, the vast majority of self-identified Tea Party supporters have backed either former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (photo) or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich over anti-bailout candidates such as Texas Congressman Ron Paul, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
The contradiction between the putative philosophy of the Tea Party movement and its recent voting habits was anticipated by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who penned a December 2011 op-ed for the Des Moines Register:
Both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich supported the outrageous $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, bailouts — “one of the most unpopular government programs in American history,” even according to President Obama’s own Treasury Department.
Both Romney and Gingrich have been outspoken and unapologetic supporters of the individual mandate. This is the heart and soul of Obama-Care.
Since the tea party started as a reaction to Republicans who voted for TARP, and was strengthened into a national political force during the fight over ObamaCare, I believe this disqualifies both Romney and Gingrich from tea party support.
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