"The Tea Party is now an institutionalized part of the Republican party. They are one and the same," a DNC operative said, previewing Kaine's speech. "The positions espoused by the Tea Party is the governing platform of the Republican party. And as voters make their choice this fall it's important to understand what the Republican-Tea Party wants to do if elected."
The DNC's decision to take on the Tea Party is a throwback to the party's initial criticism of the movement last year, as it arrived on the political scene - derisively referring to them as "tea baggers" (remember Pelosi's Astroturf comments?). But as disaffected voters began protesting en masse against the administration's health care and stimulus proposals last year, the Tea Party registered favorable ratings - better than both major parties -- forcing Democratic leaders to tone down their public criticism of the activists.