Seizing on the recent creation of a Tea Party Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats unveiled a new initiative on Thursday aimed at forcing Republicans -- both incumbents and challengers -- to either embrace or reject the caucus.
Eighty GOP members of Congress and candidates will be targeted in the offensive orchestrated by the Democratic National Committee.
50 lawmakers who have already joined the Tea Party Caucus -- such as Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) -- can expect to be blasted over the affiliation in statements the DNC plans to issue on Friday. An additional 30 Republicans who are not currently members of the caucus -- like Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) as well as several candidates -- will face demands to say whether or not they would join.
Here's a taste of what the Cantor and others are set to receive (text is from the DNC's draft release):
"Now, faced with the choice of turning their back on the Tea Party or embracing these radical views, the question remains: does Eric Cantor intend to join the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives and sign on to its out-of-the-mainstream positions? And if not, why?"
The mission of the whole, project, according to the DNC, is to convey what the Tea Party agenda means to voters in states across the country. The Democrats plan to highlight the Tea Party's support for "repealing social security and Medicare, reversing critical reforms to Wall Street and our health insurance system, extending tax breaks for the wealthy and big oil and taking us back to the same failed economic policies championed by George Bush and Dick Cheney.
News of the initiative comes on the heels of the DNC's announcement that it plans to paint the Republican Party and Tea Party as "one and the same" in its larger 2010 midterm election strategy.
"Those Republicans who chose to stand with the Tea Party and their radical agenda will be held accountable for those beliefs," DNC spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said in a statement on Thursday. "And, those who don't will be asked to say what exactly it is that they stand for - other than big business, big oil and big banks."
Here's a list of the 50 Republican lawmakers Democrats have identified as House Tea Party Caucus members:
Robert Aderholt (AL-4), Todd Akin (MO-2), Rodney Alexander (LA-5), Michele Bachmann (MN-6), Joe Barton (TX-6), Roscoe Bartlett (MD-6), Gus Bilirakis (FL-9), Rob Bishop (UT-1), Michael Burgess (TX-26), Paul Broun (GA-10), Dan Burton (IN-5), John Carter (TX-31), Howard Coble (NC-6), Mike Coffman (CO-6), Ander Crenshaw (FL-4), John Culberson (TX-7), John Fleming (LA-4), Trent Franks (AZ-2), Phil Gingrey (GA-11), Louie Gohmert (TX-1), Tom Graves (GA-9), Ralph Hall (TX-4), Gregg Harper (MS-3), Wally Herger (CA-2), Lynn Jenkins (KS-2), Steve King (IA-5), Doug Lamborn (CO-5), Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-9), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Kenny Marchant (TX-24), Tom McClintock (CA-4), Gary Miller (CA-42), Jerry Moran (KS-1), Sue Myrick (NC-9), Randy Neugebauer (TX-19), Mike Pence (IN-6), Tom Price (GA-6), Denny Rehberg (MT), Phil Roe (TN-1), Ed Royce (CA-40), Steve Scalise (LA-1), Pete Sessions (TX-32), John Shadegg (AZ-3), Adrian Smith (NE-3), Lamar Smith (TX-21), Cliff Stearns (FL-6), Todd Tiahrt (KS-4), Zach Wamp (TN-3), Lynn Westmoreland (GA-3), Joe Wilson (SC-2)