The rising profiles of Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are giving the White House a new opening: linking the entire GOP field to the tea party, whose popularity has recently sagged.
If the strategy works, it could cause guilt-by-association problems even for non-tea-party Republicans like Mitt Romney.
That might be a lot to ask, however. Unflattering comparisons are a well-worn campaign tactic, and many Americans have only a hazy notion of the tea party movement. Still, President Barack Obama's top aides are giving it a go.
Republican candidates must decide whether to "swear allegiance to the tea party" or work with Democrats to create jobs, Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said Tuesday. After last week's GOP debate in Iowa, Obama campaign guru David Axelrod claimed the presidential contenders were "pledging allegiance to the tea party."
And a new video by the Democratic National Committee says Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates are "embracing extreme tea party policies."