Tea Party Express: We're Not Trying to Distract Attention from Paul Ryan

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 25 2011 8:14 AM

Tea Party Express: We're Not Trying to Distract Attention from Paul Ryan

After tonight's State of the Union address, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) will give an unofficial, Tea Party response -- a chaser to the official response that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) will give. I had an e-mail exchange about how this came about with Sal Russo, co-founder of the Tea Party Express, which is putting on the Bachmann address.

"Amy Kremer, the Chairman of Tea Party Express, was talking to Bachmann about the need for a response from the Tea Party," said Russo. "Since we have been working on a weekly show on the internet, Amy suggested to Bachmann that we kick this off by having her give the Tea Party response and we would broadcast it live on our website. Then the thing has taken off as the TV networks started talking to us about broadcasting it live on TV.  So it just has grown as interest has gotten greater."

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It's not meant to detract attention from Paul Ryan's official response, said Russo. "This all happened long before Paul Ryan was selected.  Ryan was an intern at Empower America, so, one of my favorites. I think he is great.  The Republicans couldn’t pick a better person to make their response. But we thought the Tea Party should have their own, and Bachmann is a perfect match for that. We are going to do our response after Ryan so we don’t step on his remarks. I am sure they will be hitting similar themes because Ryan has views that are closely aligned with the Tea Party."

So is this a problem, the fact that there will be two competing Republican responses to Obama? "This is the best of both worlds for us," said Russo.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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