A Tea Party rally featuring Kentucky Senators Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul in Frankfort to protest President Obama’s health care law is expected to draw a big crowd this week.
The two are expected to rail against the Affordable Care Act, which has been a punching bag for Republican leaders since its passage. Over the past year, Tea Party candidates running in Senate primaries have had impressive victories in Missouri, Indiana and Texas, and McConnell’s appearance is being heralded as another sign of the movement’s clout.
Tea Party activist David Adams says the rally will likely receive national attention due to McConnell and Paul’s attendance.
“The real draw on this are two U.S. Senators being there, so you may see people coming from farther away than just the 20 mile circle around the state Capitol,” he says.
According to activists, this is McConnell’s first high-profile Tea Party rally since the movement was launched three years ago, though his office says he has attended two prior gatherings. Many observers argue McConnell’s appearance underscores the group’s growing influence.
As the leader of the Senate’s GOP caucus, however, McConnell has been heavily criticized by Tea Party activists and this could be interpreted as an attempt to push back against any potential primary challengers.
From The Cincinnati Enquirer:
“The left has tried to write off the importance of the Tea Party since its inception, but it has been, and continues to be an incredibly strong and very important political movement,” McConnell said in the statement. “I’m honored to have very good relationships within the movement and was flattered by the invitation to help rally against the historic blunder of Obamacare in Frankfort.”
But the growth of the Tea Party could present McConnell with added problems if the GOP takes the Senate back this fall.
From The New York Times:
Should Republicans gain control of the Senate — as they have a fair shot of doing — Mr. McConnell could find himself having to balance the demands of Republicans like Mr. Cruz against those of remaining centrists like Senator Susan Collins of Maine.
Adams says Tea Party groups from around the state flocking to Frankfort will include liberty movement advocates from across the country, and this rally could gain national attention.
“We know that there’s going to be a counter protest that may wind up being fairly sizeable. I’m expecting hundreds of people,” he says. “How many hundreds it winds up being is always the question, but I’d say it will be a pretty healthy crowd.”
The rally is scheduled for Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. at the state Capitol.