Add former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott to the list of Republican tea party bashers. Lott (R-MS) held little back in a Washington Post interview that was published this weekend, drawing the ire of conservatives far and wide.Lott told the Post that the tea partiers might not help with an already dysfunctional Senate. “We don’t need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples,” he told the Post, referring to the current Senator from South Carolina. “As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them.” Lott also told the Post he is not expecting a “tea-party sweep.”
“I still have faith in the visceral judgment of the American people,” Lott said.
The honest assessment infuriated the political right, with RedState’s Erick Erickson blasting Lott for his comments in a post this weekend.
Oh, so Lott is rooting against us. So is Bob Bennett. Bennett says the GOP is going to lose Kentucky, Nevada, and Colorado because of the gosh-darn tea party activists.
But don’t worry. After flying back from Colorado where he was out with Orrin Hatch helping Jane Norton raise money, John Cornyn said this: “The candidates are not ours to choose. . . . They’re the choice of the primary voters in the states, and I think we should respect their choices.”
Erickson also said a Republican senator who is adored by the tea party was “openly mocking” the group over drinks at the Capitol Hill Club.
Club for Growth President Chris Chocola, a two-term Indiana Congressman defeated in 2006, also let loose, calling out Lott as a lobbyist who just wants to get rich off bailouts, earmarks and handouts and suggesting Lott is threatened by tea partiers and his group because they want to put K Street “out of business.”
Chocola slammed Lott: “To paraphrase the former Leader himself, if recent Senates had had more Jim DeMints and fewer Trent Lotts making economic policy, ‘we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years.'”
The Club for Growth also noted that, as a registered lobbyist, Lott represents “corporations that supported the 2008 Wall Street bailouts, the 2009 stimulus, the cap-and-trade energy tax, and the financial regulatory reform bill.”
Democrats like to stoke the GOP infighting bonfire, but it has real consequences. If tea party candidates succeed, the Senate Republican caucus is likely to be far more conservative than it is now. Moderates Republicans like Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both from Maine, might become a thing of the past. Party leaders like Mitch McConnell (R-KY) could be pushed aside for Ã¼ber-conservatives like Sen. Jim DeMint, who has been a candidate kingmaker of sorts this year with his Senate Conservatives Fund. After all, DeMint (R-SC) has said many times he’d rather have 30 Marco Rubios than 60 Arlen Specters.
DeMint has left the door open to challenge McConnell for the leadership position, and if his candidates like Rubio, Sharron Angle, Rand Paul and Ken Buck end up serving as senators, they are likely to have his back.