There is more than a little irony in the fact that congressman Ron Paul is facing three primary challengers this year, all of them linked in some way to the Tea Party movement.
Many observers give the libertarian from Texas credit for having sparked the Tea Party movement in 2007 when he held a “money bomb” fundraiser on the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, raking in some $6 million for his presidential run in one day.
But, as the Dallas Morning News reported earlier this week, Paul is facing three primary challengers — more than he has faced in the past six primaries combined. And every one of the challengers is linked to the Tea Party movement.
Washington Independent contributor David Weigel told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Monday night that the Tea Party movement of today has little in common with that fundraiser in 2007.
“Those libertarian ideas [may be] popular at the Cato Institute, [but] they’re not really popular with Tea Party activists,” Weigel said.
As the Morning News put it, Tea Partiers say Paul is “too focused on his national ambitions; that his views are too extreme; that he doesn’t support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; that he votes ‘no’ on everything, including federal aid for his district after Hurricane Ike.”
By comparison, “the Sarah Palin version of Tea Party conservatism is a little bit less specific,” Weigel said. “It’s more slogany. You can write the talking points on your hand if you want to.”
That the Tea Party movement has become a threat to Paul is not lost on the congressman.
The Morning News reports that, in December, Paul sent out a letter to supporters saying that his opponents “turned their attack dogs loose on me,” and warned that the anti-incumbent mood among voters could affect him as well.
“There is one thing Paul does that might backfire,” Weigel wrote at the Washington Independent. “While Paul votes against basically all spending bills, he notoriously gets earmark requests into those bills, so that local projects survive when other members vote those bills through. That barely dinged Paul in 2008, but it may become an issue now.”
This video is from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Feb. 8, 2010.