An Iowa leader of the Tea Party movement predicts perhaps “tens of thousands” of the Republicans who’ll participate in the Iowa Caucuses for the first time will be Tea Party activists.
Ryan Rhodes, chairman of the Iowa Tea Party Patriots, says his group doesn’t intend to endorse any of the Republican presidential candidates of 2012, but it expects the candidates to meet with the Tea Partiers.
“Our goal is not to have candidates say, ‘Come support me because I have a few of the principles,’ but that we are advocating for a set of principles that says, ‘You come to us and you need to (explain) yourself to us, not us to you,'” Rhodes says. “So instead of identity politics, it’s a principle-based politics.”
Rhodes is organizing a bus tour around the state in July to train Tea Party activists about the Caucus process.
“We’ve teamed up with American Principles in Action and The Gold Standard to advocate sound monetary policy and we’ll be having three or four or five different issues that we want presidential candidates address,” Rhodes says. “But more than anything that bus tour, the goal of it is to take all the little, small (Tea Party) groups in Iowa and help them facilitate in training and precinct organization, so their activism can go beyond what they’ve necessarily done. We really want to build local groups, not just come in and say, ‘Hey, we’re the big guy,’ because it’s really not the case.”
Tea Party activists in the 2010 election tended to favor “outsider” candidates who had no prior history of serving in elected office. According to Rhodes, that means potential presidential candidates like Godfather’s Pizza founder Herman Cain may get a warm reception from Tea Party activists.
“It’s a whole new idea where instead of just having experience in managing a bureaucracy, we want experience in creating growth — not by the government,” Rhodes says. “But saying, we’re representing somebody who can actually go out and say, ‘This business, this can function outside of the government. We don’t have to have a million subsidies.'”
Herbert Hoover was the last American president who had not held elected office before winning the presidency. Rhodes made his comments on the Iowa Public Television program, “Iowa Press.”