Michele Bachmann’s freshly minted Tea Party Caucus has its first member of GOP leadership: Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence.
At a press availability this afternoon, Pence was enthusiastic. “You betcha,” Pence said when asked if he’d join.
“I come out of a background — I was chairman of the Republican Study Committee, I was chairman of…the House Conservative Caucus,” he added. My hope is that this Tea Party caucus…will be an avenue for bringing some of the energy and the enthusiasm and the focus that I’ve seen, from the National March on Washington where I spoke on 9/12, to traveling around Indiana and all around the country, deeper into the well of Congress.
Pence has been solicitous of the Tea Party movement in the past — the 9/12 Tea Party in DC was promoted heavily by conservative groups like FreedomWorks and right wing radio and TV host Glenn Beck. But his enthusiasm for joining the new caucus is a reminder that GOP leaders continue to flirt with the far right flank of their base.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.