Rand Paul to deliver tea party response to Obama, GOP
By Mark Preston, CNN Political Director
(CNN) — Tea party leaders are turning to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, to deliver their message following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, a speech that will compete with the official Republican response.
Paul will make his remarks soon after Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, wraps up the GOP response Tuesday night, a Paul spokeswoman confirms to CNN.
“We are giving a voice to the tea party movement when the mainstream media and the Republican establishment wants to write us off as dead,” said Amy Kremer, chairman of the Tea Party Express. This is the third year in a row that Kremer’s organization has sponsored the tea party response.
The dueling GOP speeches come at a time when a very public rift is developing between the Republican establishment and conservative activists over the direction of the party. Some grassroots activists are specifically angry at Karl Rove and other Republicans for stating that they will choose sides in upcoming Republican primaries and only financially help candidates who have a chance of winning in the general election.
In Paul, tea party leaders have chosen a nationally known senator, who is identified more for his embrace of a libertarian ideology than aligning himself with his own political party’s leaders.
The back-to-back addresses Tuesday night also features two young stars in the GOP, each of whom are expected to seriously consider running for the White House in 2016.
Paul will deliver his remarks before an audience at the National Press Club, which is located just a stones throw away from the White House.
“We expect many of our supporters and many of Rand Paul’s supporters, freedom loving, liberty loving Americans to be there because this is our time to be heard,” Kremer said. “We are proud that Marco Rubio is giving the official Republican Party response because he is a tea party conservative and one of our own. But the Republican Party doesn’t necessarily speak for all conservatives and the tea party movement has its own voice and this is our chance to be heard.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, delivered the tea party response in 2011, while Herman Cain gave it last year. Both candidates unsuccessfully sought the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.