Could Republicans Self-Destruct in 2012?

Sahil Kapur has a good piece up at TNR about the Tea Party's plans to go after Mitt Romney because he's not the "rock-solid fiscal conservative" they want. According to Kapur, FreedomWorks, the Dick Armey-led Tea Party organization, is threatening to "uneash part of its $25 million treasure trove in an attempt to sink his candidacy." Meanwhile, Joe Miller, the Tea Party candidate who took on Lisa Murkowski in Alaska and lost last November, has his own political action committee dedicated to going after Mitt Romney where it matters most: New Hampshire.

Last November, the Tea Party swept into state houses and the House of Representatives, but radical candidates like Sharon Angle, who crowded our more moderate Republicans for their party's nomination, cost Republicans control of the U.S. Senate. The lesson seemed to be that in more local races the Tea Party was a Republican God-send, but for national office, it was often a curse. Now we're talking about the presidency -- the stakes are even higher. Romney is Republicans' best hope at unseating Obama in a tough economic climate, and the Tea Party wants to repeat its mistakes and make sure he doesn't get the nomination.

But FreedomWorks told Kapur they aren't too worried about a repeat of last November:

“I don’t think we want to get stuck with another disappointment as a Republican president. If the guy at the top of the ticket goes against the free market, goes against what we believe in, then we’re not really motivated by just getting a Republican in office.”

This is bad news for the Republican Party, or at least traditional party elites, who really do just want to get Obama out of the White House and install a Republican It will be hard enough to battle Obama next fall, and even harder if the Tea Party puts its money into defeating Republicans' best candidate.

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