NBC: Democrats Hoping for Bad GOP Candidates Watch 'Tea Party Fade' With 'Disappointment'

In a report for Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, political director Chuck Todd offered an obituary for the Tea Party based on a handful of expected primary losses and sympathized with Democrats hoping for weak Republican candidates in November: "Democrats are watching this Tea Party fade with disappointment....They were counting on a few bad Tea Party nominees to bail them out of a race or two, and as you can see, that might not happen this year." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Throughout the segment, Todd gave his assessment of the "struggles" for the Tea Party: "[Kentucky Senator Mitch] McConnell's aggressive campaign is reason number one why the Tea Party has struggled – established Republicans have taken the Tea Party head on....reason number two why the Tea Party has struggled – establishment Republicans have played up their own conservative credentials....reason number three – the defining Tea Party issue of cutting government spending has faded."

Todd further explained that third reason by arguing: "After last year's government shutdown prompted Congress – including some Tea Partiers – to make deals on the budget."

Todd concluded: "Republican Party leaders hope this campaign against the Tea Party means, come November, they won't see a replay of past elections, when they gave away Senate seats to Democrats because of weak Tea Party candidates."


Here is a full transcript of the May 20 report:

7:08 PM ET

LESTER HOLT: Back in this country now and the high-stakes primary races tonight in six states across the country, the most on any single day this year, in the closest thing to a Super Tuesday in these 2014 mid-term elections. And it's turning out to be a big test for the strength of the Tea Party, several candidates locked in tough primary fights against Republican establishment candidates. We get the lay of the land tonight from our political director and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD: If you want to understand the Tea Party struggles this year, look no further than Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. Tea Partiers would love to knock off the Senate Republican leader who they see as a Washington sell-out.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL [R-KY]: The epicenter of it all is going to be right here in Kentucky.

TODD: But Tea Partier Matt Bevin has struggled under a barrage of attacks.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN [CAMPAIGN ADS]: Bevin's business failed to pay taxes at least eight times....Bailout Bevin, not a Kentucky conservative.

TODD: McConnell's aggressive campaign is reason number one why the Tea Party has struggled – established Republicans have taken the Tea Party head on.

Georgia is another battleground where the Tea Party was hoping to get its hands on another Senate seat. But the two most prominent Tea Party candidates, Congressmen Paul Brown and Phil Gingrey, are trailing badly. And that illustrates reason number two why the Tea Party has struggled – establishment Republicans have played up their own conservative credentials and blurred the line of what Tea Party really means.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B [REPORTER]: Do you consider yourself a member of the Tea Party?

DAVID PERDUE [SENATE CANDIDATE, R-GA]: Well, tell me what that is. I mean, you know, I have many ideals that we agree on.

JACK KINGSTON [SENATE CANDIDATE, R-GA]: I support so much of the Tea Party values when it comes time to less government and lower taxes.

TODD: The Tea Party had high hopes after successes of two and four years ago, with winners like Texas Senator Ted Cruz. But Cruz and others won mainly on the debt issue and that leads to reason number three – the defining Tea Party issue of cutting government spending has faded. After last year's government shutdown prompted Congress – including some Tea Partiers – to make deals on the budget.

Republican Party leaders hope this campaign against the Tea Party means, come November, they won't see a replay of past elections...

CHRISTINE O'DONNELL [CAMPAIGN AD]: I'm not a witch.

TODD: ...when they gave away Senate seats to Democrats because of weak Tea Party candidates.

And in fact, tonight, Lester, Democrats are watching this Tea Party fade with disappointment. Their hold on the Senate majority is very precarious. They were counting on a few bad Tea Party nominees to bail them out of a race or two, and as you can see, that might not happen this year.

HOLT: Alright, Chuck, thanks.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC