A fight is brewing between tea party groups ahead of the GOP convention.
Some say the "Ron Paul Festival" will be the legitimate tea party event at the convention. Others say the Michelle Bachman-Herman Cain headlined "Unity Rally 2012" is the real deal. Tea partiers attending Ron Paul's event say the Texas Rep. is the only rightful tea party candidate for president while those attending the Unity Rally think Mitt Romney deserves their endorsement.
And both sides have some heated words to share with the other.
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Jane Aitken, founder of the Ron Paul-supporting New Hampshire Tea Party coalition, calls tea party groups supporting Romney "just GOP PACs" and "typical Republican neocons."
"We don't even recognize them as a legitimate tea party," she said. "[Some of them] wouldn't know a tea party candidate if it hit him in the head. These people are destroying the movement's name."
"Original" tea partiers like Aitken reserve special disdain for TheTeaParty.Net, one of the organizers of the Unity Rally.
"Every once in a while someone comes along who preys on the beliefs, tenets and successes of other people and entities and takes greed into their own hands to advance their own personal agenda and coffers," Unified Patriots, a group that supports constitutional conservatives, wrote on its website in April. "Such could be the case with The Tea Party.net."
TheTeaParty.Net has been especially derided for having accepted large donations from groups with Republican ties.
Dustin Stockton, chief strategist of TheTeaParty.net, laughed off the criticisms. "The tea party is a big ambiguous thing," he said. "We respect everyone's right to be involved or not be involved. A lot of people have a lot of different definitions of what the tea party is."
Stockton acnowledged that TheTeaParty.net would be backing Romney. "He won the nomination and that's what counts," he said.
It's unclear how exactly the spat between tea party groups supporting Romney and Paul will play out at the convention, but Aitken says she expects there to be a Chinese wall of sorts. "Ron Paul isn't going to attend any of the other private [tea party] events," she said.
A third tea party event planned for the GOP convention, "Freedom Festival," died before it truly started because it could not secure a space to hold the event.
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