Amid a euphoria unimaginable just a year ago, activists Thursday at the largest conservative gathering in the country plotted how to ride the “tea party” wave to sweeping Republican victories in this year’s elections – and to force the GOP to govern as conservatives after the vote.
But on the opening day of the biggest-ever Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the tenuous relationship among conservatives, tea party activists and the Republican Party establishment was also repeatedly on display. Tea party backers vowed not to be taken for granted and insisted that Republicans prove they have learned the lessons of their past support for big government.
“Let’s not leave them to their own devices,” said Dick Armey, former House majority leader and now chairman of FreedomWorks, a prime mover of the tea party phenomenon. Republicans “must come to us and show us they’re worthy of our loyalty. We don’t owe them.”
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