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Democrats: Republican Party = Tea Party Movement

Tea Party caucus leader Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., center, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday, July 21, 2010. Alex Brandon

The Democratic National Committee today unveiled a new initiative to brand the Republican Party as synonymous with the Tea Party movement.

A DNC document laid out what it says are the plans of the "Republican Tea Party," among them repealing the health care bill, privatizing Social Security, ending Medicare in its current form, extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and abolishing the Departments of Education and Energy. They call the ten-point platform the "Republican Tea Party Contract on America."

(Most Republicans do support repealing health care and extending the Bush tax cuts, though the other positions here have far more limited support within the party.)

DNC Chair Tim Kaine pushed the initiative at a press conference today, saying "the Republican Party agenda has become the tea party agenda, and vice versa." Democrats hope that by linking the Tea Party to the GOP they will convince moderate voters who might have considered voting Republican that the party is too extreme.

Republican National Committee spokesperson Katie Wright responded to the DNC effort with a statement saying Democrats have an "arrogant agenda" and arguing that their "strategy for this summer appears be attacking voters as opposed to listening to them."

The Democratic initiative is designed to help blunt expected GOP gains in the November midterm elections. The name of their document, the "Republican Tea Party Contract on America," is meant to evoke memories of Republicans' 1994 "Contract With America" that helped the GOP win control of Congress. Republicans are planning a new version of that document before the November elections. 

Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann recently started a Tea Party Caucus in the House, which attracted 28 Republicans. Some members of the GOP appear to be wary of being linked too closely to the movement, though they hope to harness Tea Party enthusiasm in the midterms.

A DNC official told Politico that "We are going to use this from now until the election as a pre-emptive strike against GOP's August rebranding effort, and as a response to the new contract we expect them to come out with this fall."