Three potential Republican contenders for the 2012 presidential nomination would have higher hurdles to clear to win the Tea Party vote in the primary, leaders of the movement say.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich each are met with a degree of suspicion by Tea Partiers, and all three have taken early steps to address those voters’ concerns.
Tea Party groups, whose loosely organized members threw their sometimes considerable weight behind conservative challengers to centrist or establishment Republicans in the fall campaign, have already begun strategizing on ways to affect the race for the 2012 GOP nomination.
They are planning debates and candidate forums, organizing in key primary states, and even forming political action committees (PACs).
And Republicans — particularly those whose relationship with the grassroots activists isn’t the coziest — are mindful of the Tea Party’s potential impact, and seem to be operating with an eye toward that base.
Despite wooing from some would-be White House contenders, Tea Party groups haven’t taken an explicit stance on any of them — in part because none has even announced they are running.
The groups are already laying the groundwork for future vetting of the different candidates, though.