Mitt Romney Targeted by Joe Miller’s Tea Party Group

Jun 2, 2011 12:44pm

ABC News' Huma Khan reports: The day he’s set to announce his presidential ambitions, Mitt Romney is coming under attack by a Tea Party group that says the former Massachusetts governor isn’t conservative enough to represent conservatives.

The Western Representation PAC, a Nevada-based group led by the infamous former Alaska Senate candidate and Tea Party darling Joe Miller, launched its “Stop Romney” campaign today, designed to prevent Romney from becoming the GOP candidate.

“In a matchup against Obama, Tea Party voters are looking for a consistent constitutional conservative," Miller said in a statement. "We will never get behind Mitt Romney. On issues like gun rights, gay rights, abortion, immigration, and health care, Romney has flipped more than John Kerry flopped.”

A spokesman for the group said it's too early to say how much money it will spend on the campaign, but the PAC will focus its efforts in New Hampshire, where Romney is making his announcement today.

"If we can stop Romney from winning New Hampshire, we can stop him from winning the nomination," Executive Director Bryan Shroyer told ABC News.

As part of the campaign, the PAC will mobilize its grassroots efforts and air broadcast ads. The group hasn’t officially supported any candidate in the Republican lineup so far, but says it’s targeting Romney because it doesn’t believe he can win a race against President Obama.

“We just know that if Mitt Romney wins the nomination, we’ll be looking at a repeat of Bob Dole’s feckless 1996 campaign and a landslide defeat,” Shroyer said.

Western Representation PAC, which raised about $410,000 in the 2010 election cycle, isn’t the first Tea Party group to attack Romney.

According to recent reports, FreedomWorks, an influential umbrella organization for Tea Party groups, is also going after the GOP contender.

“Romney has a record and we don’t really like it that much,” Adam Brandon, the group’s communications director told the Huffington Post last week.

Tea Party groups are concerned about Romney’s ability to generate the kind of grassroots enthusiasm from conservative groups that helped bring Republicans to power in the House last year. His backing of the Massachusetts health care plan — on which the Affordable Care Act was modeled — and provisions in the plan that some say help abortion groups, has become a thorny issue for many.

Another Tea Party darling, Sarah Palin, also said today that Romney will face a “challenge” in garnering Tea Party support.

"Tea Party activists are pretty strident in a good way in making sure that the candidate that many of these Tea Party candidates will support has the record of living out the principles the Tea Party tends to embrace, which of course is a smaller, smarter government,” Palin told reporters in Boston. “I think that he'll have maybe a bit more of a challenge with the independents who make up the Tea Party movement."

When asked about the Tea Party’s influence last year, Romney warned the group not to form a third party that would divide Republicans.

“If we go in the direction of dividing our conservative effort in the general elections, why we’ll just basically turn the country over to Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid and that would be very sad indeed,” Romney said in an interview last March. "Divide and fail is the result.”

ABC News’ Sheila Marikar contributed to this report.

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