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August 3, 2010 > Democrats' strategy: Equate Republicans, tea party

Democrats' strategy: Equate Republicans, tea party

By Philip Elliott, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP), Jul 28 - The Democrats' national chairman on Wednesday trotted out his party's November election strategy to limit potential Republican gains, claiming Republican goals are inseparable from the ultraconservative tea party's, from killing off government health care for the elderly to abolishing the departments of Education and Energy.

Republicans brushed off Tim Kaine's attack and struck back at the Democrats who run Washington, saying their ``arrogant agenda'' has so frustrated voters that they want a new party in charge.

Kaine portrayed the November elections as a choice between his party, which under President Barack Obama has put into law a health care overhaul and tougher Wall Street rules, and a Republican-tea party combination that wants to roll back Democratic accomplishments.

``The Republican Party agenda has become the tea party agenda, and vice versa,'' Kaine said.

The tea party is a movement of people who believe that government spending and influence should be limited. The movement's name is taken from the Boston Tea Party, a 1773 protest in which activists in the then-British colonies in America boarded ships and threw their cargo of English tea into Boston Harbor in a symbolic act of protest against taxes.

Democrats cited tea party activists' statements and Republican support as they introduced a ``Republican-Tea Party Contract On America,'' a send-up of the 1994 Republican Contract With America that helped Republicans win control of the House for the first time in four decades. Kaine said the Republicans would repeal President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and the recent Wall Street regulations.

``We're determined to make sure Americans understand this,'' Kaine said.

Katie Wright, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, contended that Democrats ``have failed to understand that the mounting voter frustration heading to the polls this fall is a direct result of the arrogant agenda that brought us bailouts, takeovers and a skyrocketing deficit.''

She said the Democrats' strategy ``appears to be attacking voters as opposed to listening to them.''

Democrats pointed to the Tea Party Caucus in Congress and its high-powered supporters, including Rep. Pete Sessions, who runs the Republicans' effort to elect House candidates, and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, the third-ranking House Republican.

Both have voiced support for the caucus and have been strong backers of lawmakers who have wrapped themselves in its anti-tax, smaller-government, libertarian philosophy.

Democrats, sensitive to last summer's backlash over Obama's health care bill during political hall meetings, plan to send their incumbents home for the August recess with a message that tea party candidates and Republican lawmakers are on the same page.

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