Tea Party Group Plans To Protest Mitt Romney, Labels Him A ‘Political Opportunist’

Aug 31, 2011 10:13am

ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:

Are Mitt Romney’s attempts to cozy up to the Tea Party backfiring?

Less than 24 hours after Romney announced he was rearranging his Labor Day weekend schedule to participate in not one but two Tea Party events, one major Tea Party group announced on Wednesday that it was pulling out of  a New Hampshire rally where Romney is scheduled to speak and plans to protest him.

The group, Freedom Works, said in a statement that it will end its participation in the Tea Party Express “Reclaiming America” bus tour, which is rolling through New Hampshire this weekend. Romney signed on to speak at one of the group’s rallies in Concord, N.H. Sunday night before heading to South Carolina on Labor Day to speak at a forum organized by Tea Party leader Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. (Romney was a late addition to both events.)

“If every political opportunist claiming to be a tea partier is accepted unconditionally, then the tea party brand loses all meaning,” FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe said in a statement. “Our grassroots activists will be in New Hampshire on Sunday to defend the tea party ideas of small government and fiscal responsibility, and to remind Mitt Romney that when it comes to policy, actions speak louder than words.”

Leaders of FreedomWorks plan to join representatives from local New Hampshire Tea Party groups for a press conference Sunday in the same Concord park where Romney is scheduled to speak. The protest begins at 5:30 p.m. and the rally starts at 6 p.m.

“The tea party in New Hampshire is determined to help elect a candidate dedicated to this country’s founding principles of limited government, individual responsibility and individual freedom,” said Andrew Hemingway, head of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire. “Mitt Romney is clearly not that candidate.”

Tea Party Express announced Tuesday night that Sarah Palin will make an appearance at a rally the group has organized in Manchester, N.H. on Labor Day.

Romney has been working harder to court the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party lately. When he was asked in New Hampshire earlier this month whether he considered himself a member of the Tea Party, he said, “I don’t know that you sign a membership. What I consider myself is someone who is in sync with the Tea Party. And one of the biggest reasons why he’s doing so is clear: Rick Perry.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, Perry gets the support of 35 percent of GOP primary voters who identify themselves as Tea Partiers — more than double the Tea Party backing enjoyed by Romney.

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