In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Tea Party Express Loves Orrin Hatch: 'An Original Tea Partier'

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Newscom

As National Review's Robert Costa reported:

Sal Russo, the group's chief strategist, tells National Review Online that the Tea Party Express will not tangle with Hatch in 2012. "In 1976, when I was scouring the country trying to find people to stand up for Ronald Reagan, there were not very many in the Republican party that would, especially with the president being Jerry Ford. Orrin Hatch, however, stood up and was our state chairman," Russo explains. "He is somebody who has been willing to stand up for a long time."

"I think he was an original tea partier," Russo says. "He has been talking about our issues from the beginning. Orrin is a Reagan conservative, as far as I'm concerned, and that's as good as it gets."

In response, Hatch tweeted this note of gratitude:

Humbled to be called an "Original Tea Partier". http://bit.ly/eYbWzX @OurCountryPAC @NRO #utpol