WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats are planning to link the tea party and Republicans, overlapping the two groups to paint the GOP as a party of extremists and the grassroots activists as tools of the establishment.
Democratic National Committee sources say the party's strategy is to pose the November midterm elections as a contest between Democrats and a joint GOP-tea party plan for the country. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the official launch of the plan Wednesday by DNC Chairman Tim Kaine.
Democrats plan to cite tea party activists' statements and GOP support and introduce a "Republican-Tea Party Contract With America," a send-up of the 1994 GOP Contract With America that helped Republicans win control of the House for the first time in four decades.
Democrats plan to say the tea party is "the most potent force in Republican politics," according to a DNC source familiar with the plan.
Democrats plan to point to the Tea Party Caucus on Capitol Hill and its high-powered members, including Rep. Pete Sessions, who runs the GOP's effort to elect House candidates, and Republican Caucus Chairman Mike Pence. Both have voiced support for the Tea Party Caucus and have been strong supporters of lawmakers who have wrapped themselves in its anti-tax, smaller-government, libertarian cloth.
The Democrats, sensitive to last summer's backlash over President Barack Obama's health care bill during town hall-style meetings, plan to send their incumbents home for the August recess armed with a message that the fringe tea party candidates and Republican lawmakers are the same.
"We are also going to use this from now until the election as a pre-emptive strike against GOP's August rebranding effort," the Democratic source said.
Democrats plan to present a 10-point blueprint on how Republicans beholden to the tea party would govern. The Democratic official said the plan would dovetail with what House Democrats planned in their districts while on August recess.