Karin Hoffman of Coral Springs (that's her in the video below) says that no matter what you've read on this blog -- or in the national media -- she absolutely is a member of the tea party movement. And the meeting that Hoffman and her allies recently had with Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele was a legitimate, productive tea party event, not a misleading "publicity stunt."
That was the dismissive term that South Florida Tea Party Chairman Everett Wilkinson applied to Hoffman's meeting with Steele. We gave you Wilkinson's perspective yesterday. Today it's Hoffman's turn.
This morning, Hoffman insisted that the "tea party" name belongs to "patriots" acting on the same impulses that led the original Boston tea party to dump tea into the harbor: excessive taxes. The so-called South Florida Tea Party may not identify Hoffman as a member of its movement, but
she thinks they're a member of hers. "We're in this together," Hoffman says of the anti-tax crusade. "We're fighting against the same forces."
So in her estimation, the official South Florida Tea Party ought to have seized the opportunity to meet with such a powerful political player. "We brought together grassroots organizations from around the nation to have a conversation with Chairman Steele. It was only supposed to be one hour, but we had him for four hours."
That word grassroots is a popular one among tea party types. Wilkinson said that Hoffman's group is not truly grassroots. It's not very grassroots, he argued, for leaders of a tea party group to huddle with such a partisan political force as Steele. Doing so runs the risk of having the tea party's political objectives absorbed, then watered down after they're mixed with all the other objectives that clutter a party platform.
But this appears to be a fundamental difference between the two tea party sides. Hoffman seems to believe that the movement works best by working on the inside -- by meeting with Steele, for instance -- to demand that the Republican Party stay true to its principles of small government. Still, Hoffman stops short of saying that the tea party should align itself with the GOP. And she rejects the theory that Steele is looking to recruit the tea party.
"What they were looking for is discussion," she said of the meeting with Republican officials. "The RNC does not want the grassroots to be absorbed into it."
Criticism of her meeting with Steele, says Hoffman, "only causes more division" within the ranks of tea party activists.
Here's video of Karin Hoffman's appearance today on CNN.