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MSNBC’s Chris Matthews Discusses Tea Party Takeover of Maine GOP

From earlier this week; take a look:

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Maine’s 2010 GOP: “From Lobster Pot to Crackpot!”

More below the fold, including reactions to the new tea-stained platform by the Maine Republican gubernatorial candidates.  From the show’s transcript:

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  There’s something going on politically in this country, and we all know about it.  We don’t want to have to dig too deep to find out what’s happening.

And this weekend in Maine, the state of Maine, the state’s GOP platform was thrown out and replaced with a tea party- friendly version of the platform.  What’s going on?

David Weigel is the national reporter for “The Washington Post” and author of the blog “Right Now.”  And Joan Walsh is editor of

David, this thing is really serious.  It’s bicoastal.  It’s in all four corners.  It goes from California all the way up to Maine.  Let’s look at this.  Here’s a scene at the Maine Republican convention- we always think of Maine as a moderate Republican state- when the GOP platform was thrown out up there this weekend and a tea party-themed platform was voted in.  Let’s watch.  Let’s listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The question before the body is the adoption of the proposed amendment to substitute this language (INAUDIBLE) All those in favor of the amendment will rise.


MATTHEWS:  Well, there they are, David.  They’re not all dressed up in suits, like big-shot politicians.  They’re regular people up in Maine, a state we thought was a moderate Republican state being taken over by the tea party people.  Is this “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” or what?

DAVID WEIGEL, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, it’s the same thing that happened in Utah.

The- the reason that Bennett lost was that Tea Party activists spent about a year- and they were encouraged by the Club for Growth to spend about $180,000 helping them to do this- to take over the parties in-in county from county and city to city. Same thing in Maine- these people hadn’t really been active in politics, so it was easy for them to kind of elbow out of the way the old blue-hairs who haven’t been working that hard in Republican- in the party for a while.

MATTHEWS:  Well, is this top-down or bottom up?  Top-down or bottom-up?  Is it the people in the grassroots or is this stirred by the well-financed Club for Growth?


WEIGEL:  Oh, no, this is pretty bottom-up.  The Club had a role, but, you know, two years ago, Ron Paul supporters were doing the same thing.  We just weren’t paying attention.  It’s really easy to take over in-in Maine, yes, Olympia Snowe wins, Susan Collins wins, but we have seen polling that says most conservative voters are not that fond of Olympia Snowe.  And they just have had been active until the last year.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, let me go to-let me go to Joan. Joan, it seems to me Maine has always been that state that is highly independent. They elect people who are basically independent-minded, really classic Yankees, if you will, Down Easterners-Easterners. It seems to me we didn’t think of that as sort of right-wing territory before.

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, SALON.COM:  No, and I’m not-I’m still not sure it is.  It is a very independent state. You know, I would give a slightly different answer from Dave’s, although he is the expert on the Tea Party.  I think it’s bottom-up with a lot of help from top-down.  And I think that the Club for Growth and our friend Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks are putting a lot of money into helping these people do what they do.

But, you know, Chris, you have really got to look at this new Maine Tea Party platform.  I mean, it’s crackpot.  

I mean, it commits the state of Maine to doing everything it can to defeat the U.N. Rights of the Child treaty, which is about sex trafficking and child labor, nothing really objectionable in there.

It puts them on the side of the Tenthers, the people who say the 10th Amendment will prevent-should prevent health care reform. It’s really, really quite fringy.  It’s going to-we’re going to go back to Austrian economics.  And maybe Dave can tell us what that is.

But, you know, it’s all-they-they attack ACORN, which isn’t even a group anymore. So, it’s really an amalgam of fringe interests.

Indeed, it is “fringy” and “crackpot”.

And for the most part, Maine Republican candidates are desperately trying to distance themselves from the insanity of their own party’s platform.

GOP candidates, who were asked whether they support the platform, generally chose to point to their own priorities instead. None accepted a challenge by the state Democratic 2010 campaign chairman, Arden Manning, to reject the document.

“I support the spirit behind the new platform, though the letter of the document does leave room for improvement,” Bill Beardsley wrote in an e-mail. While he said it “appropriately venerates the constitutions of both Maine and the United States,” Beardsley added that it “expresses the electorate’s increasing frustration with the rapidly growing government footprint in our lives.”

Bruce Poliquin says he agrees with some parts of the platform, but finds others “unnecessarily divisive.”

“As Republicans, we should articulate our core values in a way that attracts all those who share them,” Poliquin wrote. But he said several additions to the platform “fall short of that goal.”

Peter Mills said the platform reflects the public’s anger about public debt and the lack of accountability for tax-supported services.

“I doubt that there is anyone in the Legislature who has trumpeted those same concerns more than I have,” said Mills, a state senator. He said the platform fails to stick to the issues that concern most mainstream voters and includes things Republicans don’t support.

Les Otten said he left the convention before the changes were added to the platform.

“I haven’t studied the changes,” Otten said in a phone interview, adding that he doesn’t know where it may tie into his campaign theme of adding jobs, reining in health care costs, overhauling welfare, and not imposing new taxes.

Matt Jacobson‘s campaign manager, Bill Becker, responded to the AP with an e-mail that made no direct reference to the platform. It said Jacobson’s message “is about bringing people together to create a strong Maine economy. He is campaigning on his own experience and message.

So, let’s review.

Bill Beardsley criticizes the platform rather than really respond (I’ll give him a B-).

Peter Mills copied his answer practically word-by-word from Olympia Snowe and gets an F.

Les Otten hasn’t done his homework at all (and even admits he skipped class!) and Matt Jacobson also scores an incomplete for having a toady hand in his poorly scribbled answer.

Bruce Poliquin gets a C, just because. (Hey, I’m grading these answers and I do NOT have to be fair or objective! ūüėČ

Plus, Bruce attacked Les earlier this week. Bad form in a primary; scratch the C and make that a D for Mr Poliquin.

What’s funny is that even a Maine GOP Teabagger candidate is staying away from the new tea-stained platform!

Neither Paul LePage, whose campaign has made a presence at Tea Party events around Maine, nor Steve Abbott responded to e-mail and phone queries

Steve Abbott, btw, has as his only claim to fame, that he was Susan Collins’ chief of staff for a dozen years– that’s IT.

I do have to wonder how his eventual lose will reflect upon her own chances to save her seat next ‘go-round…

And I thought failed Maine GOP gubernatorial candidate Mike Heath was the champion for backpedalling!

These folks have taken it to new levels

(h/t my darling SnookyOokums for this clip!)

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