"I know what you're thinking," he might have told them in his raspy voice, "but being as this is government default we're talking about -- the most powerful economy destroyer in the world -- and would blow any recovery clean off, you've got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, Tea Party?"
Eastwood never made that call, but lots of other Republicans did make calls. Everyone from Wall Street executives to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to economic experts and prominent party officials pleaded with House Republicans not to send the U.S. into default.
Most Republicans didn't listen. 144 in the House voted against the compromise plan negotiated by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to reopen the government and prevent default. The only thing which saved the nation from economic calamity were the votes of non-Tea Party Republicans who joined with Democrats to pass the compromise plan. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL 16) was one of them.
It now appears Kinzinger is being asked to lead the fight against special interest groups which have been big financial backers of the Tea Party movement. The Congressman made an appearance Sunday on ABC's political program 'This Week' where he slammed political action committees such as 'Club for Growth.' The next morning on WROK's 'Riley and Scot' morning program, he chastised another PAC -- the 'Senate Conservative Fund.' He says it has raised $3 million, of which, "... not a single drop of that has been spent against a Democrat or on behalf of a Republican."
That's because rather than going after Democrats, these groups are going after incumbent Republicans. They're focusing on nominating the most conservative Republican candidate they can find to oppose incumbents in 'safe' GOP districts. Immediately after the budget compromise vote passed, 'Club for Growth' pledged its support to the Tea Party opponents of both Sen. McConnell; and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), two seats where the Republican nominee will have a huge edge in the general election. It's called by incumbent Republicans being 'Primary-ed.'
It's a plan that can backfire. In 2012, Tea Party candidates won the Republican nominations for Senate races in Indiana and Missouri, seats which should have been easy wins for the GOP. Instead, their hyper-conservative candidates predicatably imploded and lost.
In 2010, they helped nominate a Tea Party political novice named Christine O'Donnell to a U.S. Senate race in Maryland. She 'primary-ed' a longtime Republican Congressman who was considered a heavy favorite to win in the general election. O'Donnell then ran a laughable campaign, at one point putting out ads in which she stated "I'm not a witch," and lost in a landslide.
Add up all these races, and you could make the case that the Republican Party would have majorities in both the House AND Senate had it not been for the influence of Tea Party affiliated PACS.
Kinzinger is a good candidate to help lead the pushback against these groups because he is well-spoken with strong conservative credentials in a relatively 'safe' Republican district where Tea Party influence isn't very strong. His military background, not to mention his youth and TV friendly appearance, add to his appeal.
Kinzinger conceded on WROK that the Republican Party is divided on tactics. His attacking PAC's which support Tea Party Republicans won't help that situation. So why do it? Why make the friend of your Tea Party friend your enemy? Because he thinks they're costing his party votes and seats.
"If we never want to win a national election again," Kinzinger told WROK, "then we ought to just keep doing what we're doing, which is finding every reason why (moderate Republicans don't) belong in the Republican Party." That's because if defeatd, he believes most of those Republicans won't be replaced by more conservative Republicans, but rather far more liberal Democrats, handing them complete political control of the country.
To hear WROK's interview with Kinzinger, click on the link below.