Senate Tea Party Caucus Makes Its Mark

Ky. GOP Senator Rand Paul (left) looks on as Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C. speaks at the Tea Party Caucus.
Conservative crusader Jim DeMint and the freshmen senators he worked to elect planted their Tea Party flag today, reports CBS News Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes.

"We'll do everything we can to fight on your behalf to restore constitutionally limited government," said Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah.

The Tea Party Caucus claimed credit today for the GOP's hard new line on spending.

"We will do everything we can to cut wasteful government spending." Said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor Wed.

Senate Tea Party Caucus Holds First Meeting

They even see their influence in the president's State of the Union address.

"If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it," said Obama during the State of the Union address on Jan. 25.

"Did that come from his side of the party?" asked Ky. GOP Senator Rand Paul, "Or did that come from the Tea Party?"

Their assertiveness has caused some heartburn for GOP leaders.

Like when Congresswoman Michele Bachmann insisted on delivering a separate Tea Party response to the State of the Union.

"Let me show you a chart," said Bachmann.

Or when Tea Party enthusiast Sarah Palin invoked a vulgar acronym to describe the president's speech.

"His theme last night at the State of the Union was the WTF - you know, wining the future and I thought, 'ok, that acronym, spot on.' I thought there were a lot of WTF moments throughout that speech," said Palin on Fox News.

But friction between the Republican party and the Tea Party doesn't trouble supporters who say, "that's the whole point."

"It's my goal to see that Republicans listen to Tea Party activists and others about what government should be like," said Senator Jerry Moran, R-Kans.

Senator Marco Rubio of Fla. is one of a couple new members who won big with Tea Party support but steered clear of the caucus today. An indication that they're not completely comfortable with the Tea Party mantle.

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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.