Tea Party activists have fumed at accusations of intolerance and racism, insisting their concerns about President Barack Obama are policy-oriented. Yet dozens of Tea Party groups have openly admitted to the Washington Post that the president's race is a factor in their activism.
In a lengthy investigation into the fledgling political movement that has made tremendous waves nationally, Amy Gardner reported that the Post identified more than 1,400 Tea Party groups across the nation and spoke extensively with 647 of them about their philosophies and ambitions.
"Eleven percent said that Obama's race, religion or ethnic background was either a 'very important' or 'somewhat important' factor in the support their group has received," the Post concluded.
As per the Post's reporting, that amounts to over 70 Tea Party organizations (eleven percent of 647) that willingly concede Obama's race is fueling their members' activism.
Gardner quoted organizers questioning the president's citizenship and birth certificate, his Christian faith and "socialist" policies, with some going so far as to describe him as un-American.
"There are questions that don't get answered, like citizenship and his birth certificate," said Andy Stevens, 68, founder of the Tea Party Patriots in Anacortes, Washington. "I don't know why questions keep popping up all the time. If something is irrefutable, the questions wouldn't keep popping up."
Stevens was upset Obama doesn't invoke "the creator" when discussing inalienable rights.
The Post's investigation also found that the size and scope of the Tea Party movement has been "inflated" or misreported, concluding that some Tea Party organizations notably exaggerate the volume of groups or followers under their umbrella.
Self-identified Tea Party activists have overwhelmingly identified their main concerns as the growth of government, out-of-control spending and exploding deficits. They began organizing under the Tea Party banner just weeks after Obama's inauguration.
The movement that has upended entrenched elements within the Republican establishment and threatens to oust dozens of Democratic incumbents in November remains stubbornly against uniting behind a particular leader.
But when surveyed by the Post, their preferred public figure was former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (14 percent), followed by Fox News host Glenn Beck (7 percent) and South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint (6 percent).