Mitt Romney will speak at a Tea Party Express rally in New Hampshire on Labor Day, his first appearance at a high profile event associated with the movement.
Romney’s scheduled appearance, first reported on CNN, comes as he faces renewed pressure on his right flank thanks to Rick Perry’s surging campaign. Perry was one of the earliest national politicians to jump on the grassroots bandwagon — he made his famous “secession” comments at a Tea Party rally in April 2009 — and is currently polling very well with self-identified Tea Partiers. He, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain will attend a forum with the Tea Party-leaning Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) in South Carolina on Labor Day.
While Tea Party Express is not backing or opposing any GOP candidate, president Amy Kremer has been extremely critical of Romney’s Massachusetts health care law. Mark Meckler, co-founder of rival group Tea Party Patriots, has also criticized Romney for not distancing himself enough from the law.
Romney, for his part, has generally offered praise for Tea Party activists even as he’s avoided openly identifying with the movement.
Get the day’s best political analysis, news and reporting from the TPM team delivered to your inbox every day with DayBreaker. Sign up here, it takes just a few seconds.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.