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Who gains from Rand Paul’s speech?

After the State of the Union tonight, there was the Republican response. And after the Republican response? There was the Tea Party version.

Why does the Tea Party need its own response? It probably doesn’t, considering that the official Republican responder is Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who won a primary against a more establishment Republican thanks to the backing of the Tea Party. But the movement is not a unified group, as they often like to remind the press. Even if the response does nothing for the conservative grass roots movement, it makes perfect sense for those actually involved in it.

The response is organized by Tea Party Express, as it has been for the past three years (Rep. Michele Bachmann gave the first Tea Party response, when she famously failed to make eye contact with the camera). Tea Party Express bills itself as “the nation’s largest tea party political action committee.” This is a little odd, considering it’s not a PAC at all. In fact, as a disclaimer at the bottom of its website and all ads says, Tea Party Express is a brand of a real PAC called Our Country Deserves Better, which is in turn controlled by the Sacramento, Calif.-based GOP P.R. firm Russo Marsh + Rogers.

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