NEW YORK – A planned convention of Tea Party activists lost two prominent speakers Thursday, the latest sign of disagreement over how best to showcase the movement’s growing political force.
Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee canceled their appearances after being billed as speakers at the gathering next week in Nashville, Tenn. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin remains a headline speaker at the event.
Both Bachmann and Blackburn have been strong supporters of the Tea Party movement, a loose confederation of conservative activists who opposed the federal bailouts of the financial system and auto giants GM and Chrysler, as well as President Barack Obama’s proposed health care overhaul and the $787 billion stimulus plan.
The convention had attracted several sponsorships from Tea Party affiliate groups.
But other tea partiers have openly balked at the $550 ticket price and $100,000 fee being paid to Palin for the keynote address, saying the high prices are contrary to the movement’s grass-roots image and preclude many activists from attending.
In separate statements released by their congressional offices, Bachmann and Blackburn said appearing at the convention might conflict with House ethics rules. But they also said they had concerns about how money raised from the event would be spent.