Four of the many candidates seeking to replace Michael Steele at the head of the Republican National Committee took a break from the behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing of an RNC chair race yesterday to make their case to the tea party. Whether the tea party paid attention is still anyone's guess.
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Former Michigan GOP chair Saul Anuzis, former Ambassador and Missouri GOP chair Ann Wagner, former RNC chair Mike Duncan and recently departed RNC political director Gentry Collins gathered for a debate of sorts before an audience of tea partiers hosted by FreedomWorks in Washington. Of the four who appeared, only Anuzis and Wagner are official candidates, though Collins is expected to jump into the race officially at any moment. Duncan's appearance was something of a surprise, though he clearly came prepared to mount a run at the job he lost to Steele in 2009.
The movement that has come to define the Republican Party this year was invited by members of the GOP establishment to play a part in electing the chair. Establishment types hope that by bringing the tea party to the table, they can unite a party still fractured somewhat after nasty primaries. The debate featured a number of questions about how to go about doing that -- but few answers.