Marco Rubio Doesn't Really Want to Join the Senate's Tea Party Caucus
"Why do we need something in addition to the steering committee?" Rubio told conservative website The Shark Tank. "My concern is that politicians all of a sudden start co-opting the mantle of 'Tea Party'. If all of a sudden being in the Tea Party is not something that is happening in Main Street, but rather something that's happening in Washington D.C., the 'Tea Party' all of a sudden becomes some sort of movement run by politicians...it's gonna lose its effectiveness and I'm concerned about that. I think that the real power of the Tea Party comes from its ability to drive the debate and the issues from the grassroots up, as opposed to from the politicians down."
Newly elected Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky organized the caucus, which also includes Sen. Mike Lee and close Rubio ally Sen. Jim DeMint, but Rubio was nowhere to be seen at their first meeting last week.
While Rubio had embraced the Tea Party's support, he's always been hesitant to identify himself too broadly with the movement. There's something to be said about worrying about joining political fads. Who knows what the movement will look like by the time Rubio is up for re-election in 2016, and Rubio also knows that Florida's political mood can shift wildly.
Instead of becoming an official Tea Partier, Rubio is joining the Conservative Steering Committee in order to champion conservative ideas.
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