GOP Congressmen Not Exactly Rushing to Join Tea Party Caucus

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Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

If the new House Tea Party Caucus held a meet-and-greet this afternoon, it would consist of Minnesota's Michele Bachmann and Indiana's Mike Pence drinking punch and making awkward small talk while frequently glancing at the door for more arrivals. Sure, Bachmann only received approval for the House of Representatives' newest caucus — essentially a group of like-minded representatives who sometimes meet to discuss their shared interest or priorities, from the Congressional Spina Bifida Caucus to the Congressional Former Mayors Caucus — yesterday. But considering the sway that the tea-party movement holds in the Republican Party right now, you might think there would be a little more excitement to join.

So far, only Pence has committed to it, while GOP leadership like John Boehner has decided to steer clear and Eric Cantor took an all-day plane trip just to avoid having to tell reporters what he plans to do. The problem is that, though membership in the House Tea Party Caucus will help most Republicans in their primaries, it could become a liability in the general election. The tea-party movement, according to one recent poll, is now viewed more negatively than positively by the overall electorate, and the constant attention it gets for incidents of racism and for outrageous Nazi comparisons is something with which many politicians would probably rather not be officially associated. Up until now, Republicans have had their tea-party cake and eaten it too. Now they have to chose whether to have it or eat it.

GOP leery of Tea Party Caucus [Politico]