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What Does the Local Tea Party Think of the Iowa Caucuses?

The results from the caucus in Missouri’s neighboring state, Iowa, had Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul in the top three seats. To get the reaction from a local Tea Party group, KSMU's Jennifer Moore spoke to Eric Farris, director of the Branson Tea Party.

“I think in many ways, a lot of the race has been the very progressive, big government type views espoused by Mitt Romney on one side, who is supported by the GOP establishment—and then just a variety of other candidates who have come and gone, surged and fallen back from time to time, who would represent someone who might be opposite than those views espoused by Mitt Romney,” Farris said.

“Most Tea Party organizations, as an organization, they do not endorse specific candidates. The core values of the Tea Party movement are fiscal responsibility, Constitutionally-limited government, and economic freedom,” Farris said.

He says based on his talks with others in the Tea Party movement, there’s a lot of concern about Mitt Romney’s past support for big government programs.

Farris said that many of Ron Paul’s views fit in very well with the Tea Party values.

“Ron Paul has a very consistent message.  And sometimes more consistent than some might want him to be.  He’s been very consistently been about: Is an action authorized to the federal government in the Constitution?  He’s voted time and time against tax increases, he’s voted time and time again against spending increase measures.  And so I think, quite frankly, quite a few of his positions line up very well with, again, those core values of the Tea Party,” Farris said.

He said some Tea Party activists have some concerns with Ron Paul’s stance on American foreign policy.  Paul has criticized the number of military bases the US maintains around the world, and he has criticized the longstanding policy of US intervention in foreign countries.

Farris says those issues are thought-provoking, and need to be discussed on the national stage.

“You can’t just look at cutting welfare. You’ve got to take a look at what we can do to restrict and cut back on our warfare at the same time,” Farris said.

Farris said the Branson Tea Party is planning  to be an active presence in Missouri’s March 17 Republican caucus.

“Definitely, the Tea Party movement is behind the concept of a caucus,” Farris said.  A caucus leads the public to get invested in the issues, he says, and that has been a common refrain of the Tea Party’s from the beginning.

“Wake up, learn the issues, get involved. Spend five less minutes on American Idol, and spend five more minutes a week on American public policy,” he said.

(To hear the entire, unedited interview, you can click on the MP3 player at the top of the page).