On Washington Unplugged, CBS News senior political producer Rob Hendin spoke with Tea Party Patriots co-founder and national coordinator Mark Meckler for reaction to Congress' two-week continuing resolution to fund the government, which would cut $4 billion in spending and, for the time-being, prevent a government shutdown.
When asked for comment after House Speaker John Boehner said in a news conference Wednesday that there's no threat of a government shutdown, Meckler told Hendin, "I mean initially, that's just pathetic. Basically what he's saying is we're here to do some serious negotiations but before we start we'd like to look like we gave up. I'm stunned that he would say something like that."
Meckler thinks Republicans are conceding to the demands of President Obama and Democrats.
"People are not really concerned about a government shutdown," Meckler noted, "In fact, I think there are a lot of people who would be happy to see the government shutdown for a few days."
The Tea Party movement wields influence within the Republican Party and is likely to be crucial to the success or failure of potential GOP presidential candidates in 2012. Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who's considered a likely contender for the nomination, released (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20037681-503544.html?tag=mncol;lst;1) an ad Tuesday courting the Tea Party in dramatic fashion.
"I think they don't have a choice," Meckler responded when asked what he makes of politicians' attempts to court members of the Tea Party. "I think it shows the power of the Tea Party Patriots brand in the marketplace and it shows they're acknowledging that the American people identify with Tea Party values... It's an acknowledgment that they have to connect with the Tea Party and if they don't they don't have a chance."
Is there a Tea Party favorite for 2012? Meckler says it's too early to tell and added, "I don't think there is a favorite and I think that's healthy. I think what you're seeing is people are not emotionally engaging with the candidates at this point."
Watch Rob Hendin's interview with Mark Meckler above.