Republicans Spar Over Health of Tea Party Movement

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Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., disagreed Sunday with a notion put forward by a fellow South Carolina Republican senator that the Tea Party would eventually "die out."

"Lindsey's a great friend but he is wrong on this," DeMint said on Fox News.

In an interview with the New York Times Magazine published last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said, "The problem with the Tea Party, I think it's just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out."

DeMint disagreed.

"The Tea Party is just the tip of the iceberg of an American awakening of people who are standing up. They want to take back their government. It's not a matter of right or left or conservative or liberal. It's really a matter [of] success or failure as a country and I think Americans are going to show in November that this isn't going away," he said.

Republican politicians have plenty of motivation to defend the Tea Party movement. A recent Gallup poll shows what many observers had long suspected: Tea Party members are essentially the Republican base.

The poll showed that 79 percent of Tea Partiers identify themselves as Republican, while only 15 percent identify themselves as Democrats.

Many conservative commentators have attacked Graham for his prediction of the Tea Party's demise. The Before It's News blog described Graham as a "Republican in name only," and said he's "just one of a few reasons in the nation's capital that will easily sustain the Tea Party movement."

The RightPundits blog said Graham "missed the point." Tea Partiers "share a belief that many of the nation’s institutions are out of their control, and perhaps out of control altogether. They thus seek some avenue to make this nation which they cherish representative of their values again. This vision clearly separates them from most Washington officeholders...."

This video is from Fox's Fox News Sunday, broadcast July 4, 2010.

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