September 22nd, 2010
01:23 PM ET

Letters to the President: #611 'The real Tea Party goal: Legitimacy'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama asked for advice a long time ago from ordinary citizens. He and the rest of the Dems got some this week from a citizen, who is anything but ordinary.

Dear Mr. President,

Did you see it? There was your old buddy former President Bill Clinton saying precisely what I told you a few days ago: It would be a huge mistake for the Democrats to dismiss the Tea Party movement as merely a problem for Republicans.

Related: Don't underestimate Tea Party, Clinton tells Dems

Has he been hanging around the Oval Office lately, maybe nosing through your mail? Or maybe Madam Secretary? Just wondering.

The funny thing is, no matter how the midterm election turns out, I suspect a lot of Tea Party folks already feel as if they have won. Six months ago they were being dismissed by both political parties as a flash in the pan, and now they are part of virtually every discussion on how the votes will be divvied up this fall.

After all, nothing says political legitimacy quite like presidents and former presidents talking about your movement the same as they would the Electoral College or polls or kissing babies or a weekend at Camp David. Seriously, think about how that speech you made at the 2004 Democratic Convention catapulted you from nowheresville into someone that Americans noticed. And that was on the coattails of John Kerry for crying out loud!

I’ve talked to enough Tea Partiers to know that, that is much more valuable to them than any two, three or ten seats they might actually win. Because if they can put the big players on both sides of the aisle on the run, they might accomplish something that both parties have long said will never happen: The establishment of a genuine third party. And won’t elections be interesting then.

So on Election Day when all the DC crowd is counting chairs, don’t be surprised if the Tea Partiers are celebrating long before the voting is done.

You really should give me a call if you get a moment. We could yak things over and maybe get some ice cream before summer is all gone.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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