Call it PDA. Keeping a safe distance no more, House Republican leaders are openly embracing the tea party with No. 2 guy Eric Cantor saying he's willing to work closely with new members elected with the support of the movement.
Cantor (R-Va.), the minority whip, brushed aside Democratic claims of extremism within the tea party movement and said the grassroots activists "are people who are concerned about the fiscal state of this country."
They are not "outside the mainstream" of American politics, he told CBS's "The Early Show."
At the same time, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) -- the man who would likely be speaker if Republicans capture the majority on Nov. 2 -- has transferred more than $320,000 from one of his campaign accounts to 39 conservative GOP candidates backed by elements of the tea party, according to the Washington Post
Republican leaders, early in the midterm campaign, encouraged tea party activism, but were cautious of getting too close to the movement's fierce anti-government, anti-establishment rhetoric. A Boehner spokesman said "the congressman is doing everything possible to support all of our Republican candidates -- whether it's contributing directly to their campaigns, raising money for the party, or simply meeting with and listening to voters."
The tea party also has the attention of former Bush White House political adviser Karl Rove, who is part of a successful effort to direct millions of dollars of third-party campaign cash for advertising to benefit Republican candidates.
In a recent interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel
, Rove said, "If you look underneath the surface of the tea party movement . . . you will find that it is not sophisticated. It's not like these people have read the economist Friedrich August von Hayek. Rather, these are people who are deeply concerned about what they see happening to their country, particularly when it comes to spending, deficits, debt and health care." Rove was comparing 2010 activism to the conservative true believers behind the Reagan Revolution in the 1980s.