Washington Report

Dispatches from Capitol Hill

RNC Hosts Tea Party to Protest Healthcare Reform

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(Source: Boston Tea Party Historical Society)

The Tea Party movement is more popular among American voters than the Democratic and Republican parties, according to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. Maybe that’s what inspired Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to host his own tea and pizza party Wednesday afternoon at RNC headquarters.

Steele said it was in honor of the 236th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, and as the Colonists did in 1773, voters today must demand that lawmakers listen to them.

“We have a Congress and a White House that have turned a deaf ear to the people of this country. They’ve turned a deaf ear on healthcare, on the economy, and have started to execute an agenda that quite frankly is not in the best interests of the American people,” Steele said to a group that appeared to consist primarily of young RNC and Capitol Hill staffers and a few Republican faithful elders. And so it’s time to fight, it’s time to push back, but most importantly it’s time to get this Congress to listen to us, to listen to you — the American people.”

Steele conceded that tea partiers are justified in feeling that the Republican Party has abandoned its conservative principles, but the GOP is still a “natural home” for the movement. He’s holding a joint press conference call on Monday with former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) to discuss RNC and conservative grassroots efforts to stop healthcare reform.

Separately, Steele launched on Monday a “Listen to Me” campaign that includes radio and Web video ads aimed at preventing a “takeover” of the nation’s healthcare system. The RNC also is holding town hall meetings in the states of six moderate senators who are still on the fence over healthcare reform.

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