Republican Party

Old GOP Still Struggling with Role of Tea Party

Allies or enemies?

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Leaders in the Republicans' K Street wing, it seems, don't know whether to embrace the Tea Party wing or go to war against it.

The GOP establishment has made two peace offerings to the rebels within its ranks.

First, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, facing a potential primary challenge, chose a new campaign manager: Ron Paul's campaign director and longtime aide, Jesse Benton. Paul was Tea Party before the Tea Party—chastising his own party for abandoning its stated principles, serving as a gadfly in primaries and rallying a base that otherwise would not have been engaged. His son Rand shifted the Tea Party into high gear in May 2010 when he defeated McConnell's hand-picked Senate nominee, Trey Grayson, in the Kentucky GOP primary.