As we've pointed out, it's not unheard of to have more than one response to the president's State of the Union address from within the same party. Nevertheless, ever since the Tea Party Express announced that Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., would deliver her own "tea party response," the media have speculated that the "unusual" tactic could "scramble" the GOP's message, to be delivered by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
According to early reports, Bachmann's message will focus on condemning an "explosion of government spending" in recent years. “After the $700 billion bailout, the trillion-dollar stimulus, and the massive budget bill with over 9,000 earmarks that the President signed, many of you implored Washington to please stop spending money we don’t have," Bachmann plans to say, according to excerpts of her remarks. “But, instead of cutting, we saw an unprecedented explosion of government spending and debt at President Obama’s direction -- unlike anything we have seen in the history of our country.”
Bachmann will also briefly touch on Obama's support for a cap-and-trade energy policy and urge support for a balanced budget amendment.
The repeal of President Obama's signature health care law will also be a topic of scrutiny. "Last week we voted to repeal ObamaCare," Bachmann will say, "and each day going forward, we must work hard to dismantle the massive government expansion that has happened over the past two years.”
Fox News reported Tuesday that Bachmann's online "post-game show" has the potential to "distract from Ryan's fiscal-focused message and revive last year's narrative of a GOP house divided between establishment leaders and an untamed Tea Party network tugging at its seams."
"I think the real question is who's really running the Republican Party?" Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh said Tuesday. "I mean the fact is, we may find out tonight it's the Tea Party." ...
[T]he rebuttal-after-the-rebuttal seems to have perturbed some Republicans, who at least passively betray a hint of annoyance on the timing, even while downplaying its significance.
During a breakfast with reporters Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner wistfully called the move "a little unusual." ...
"Whether it is through a press release, Twitter, the internet, on television, radio, via Facebook, or by other means, virtually every member of Congress will share their thoughts on the president's State of the Union," concurred Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, in an e-mail to FoxNews.com.
Indeed, representatives from the Tea Party Express have insisted Bachmann's response is not meant to overshadow Ryan's in any way. Sal Russo, the organization's co-founder, told Slate's Dave Weigel that the decision present a tea party perspective was made well in advance of the party's plans to have Ryan deliver the GOP's rebuttal.
"I think [Ryan] is great. The Republicans couldn’t pick a better person to make their response," Russo said. "But we thought the Tea Party should have their own, and Bachmann is a perfect match for that. We are going to do our response after Ryan so we don’t step on his remarks. I am sure they will be hitting similar themes because Ryan has views that are closely aligned with the Tea Party."
While some political pundits debate what impact Bachmann's remarks will have on GOP-tea party relations (and some even speculate the congresswoman is laying the groundwork for a 2012 presidential run), MSNBC Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough chose to poke fun at the Minnesota Republican:
In contrast, South Dakota Republican Congresswoman Kristi Noem -- a tea party favorite in her own right -- appeared on FNC Tuesday afternoon and casually shrugged off the speculation.
"I think it's great that she's going to give a response," Noem told host Neil Cavuto. "I think that she's going to make sure that we're holding our president's feet to the fire, that he doesn't just stand up and give a really nice tug-at-your-heartstrings speech, that we're going to make sure in the future that he doesn't tug at our wallet anymore," she said.