Nightly News   |  February 16, 2010

Tea Party doesn't auto-default to GOP

From Washington State to Washington, D.C., the Tea Party movement has mobilized against government spending and politics as usual, but fiscal conservatism does not make them automatic allies of Republicans. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> simpson will lead that effort. our huge national debt is one of the issues driving the tea party movement, and while they are out to be a political threat to both established political parties , today some of the activists who have been gathering under the tea party banner came face-to-face with the republican powers that be. nbc's andrea mitchell has more on this from our washington newsroom tonight. good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. from coast to coast , it is a national movement , loosely organized, by universally angry at big government . today some of them came to the belly of the beast . they are mad as you know what and say they are not going to take it any more. from washington state to washington , d.c.

>> can you hear us now?

>> reporter: tea partyers are mobilizing against government spending and politics as usual, today showing up at republican national head quarters at the vintation of nervous party leaders.

>> i don't want the gop to co-op this movement. we are about our own issues, fiscal responsibility , limited government , free markets . we want true conservatives in office that are going to be held accountable to the people that hired them and put them there.

>> reporter: by definition, the tea party is not an organized political party . most are fiscal conservatives, and while many love sarah palin , they say they don't want a leader. nor are they automatic allies for republicans.

>> i've run into some incredibly independent leaders and i have every faith that they will remain independent.

>> the message to the republican party is clearly, you need us more than we need you.

>> reporter: they are the people who showed up in nashville ten days ago. voters who helped republican scott brown win his upset victory in massachusetts. some are ron paul libertarians like his son ronde paul.

>> i think we are close to that point where we will pay a price if we don't get our government under control.

>> reporter: in arizona, supporters of talk show host j.d. hayworth challenging john mccain .

>> you could say there are two john mccains, the one who cam opinions like a conservative and the one who legislates like a liberal.

>> reporter: radical fringe groups swept up in a growing political storm.

>> the largest most diversified, most energetic small government grass roots movement i've seen in all of my years in politics.

>> reporter: people in today's meeting said the republican national chairman michael steele promised to stay out of the way and work with the tea party group when they can agree on candidates, even if that is not all the time. brian?

>> andrea mitchell in our washington newsroom tonight. andrea, thanks, as always.