Obama on the Tea Partiers

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In his interview that aired Monday Morning on NBC's Today show, President Obama gave his impression of what the tea party movement is, who is in it, and what they think. Here's what he had to say:

You know, I think that it is a still loose amalgam of forces...there's a part of the tea party movement that actually did exist before I was elected. We saw some of it leading up to my election. There are some folks who just weren't sure whether I was born in the United States, whether I was a socialist, right, so there's that segment of it, which I think is just dug in ideologically, and that strain has existed in American politics for a long time.

Then I think that there's a broader circle around that core group of people who are legitimately concerned about the deficit, who are legitimately concerned that the federal government may be taking on too much, and last year a bunch of the emergency measures we had to take in terms of dealing with the bank crisis, bailing out the auto industry, fed that sense that things are out of control. And I think those are folks who have legit concerns...

And so I wouldn't paint in broad brush and say that you know everybody who's involved or have gone to a tea party rally or a meeting are somehow on the fringe. Some of them, I think, have some mainstream legitimate concerns, and, you know, my hope is is that as we move forward and we're tackling things like the deficit and imposing a freeze on domestic spending and taking steps that show we're sincere about dealing with our long-term problems that some of that group will dissipate. There's still gonna be a group at their core that question my legitimacy or question the Democratic Party generally, or question people who they consider to be against them in some way and that group we're probably not gonna convince...


Here's the video. Tea party discussion starts at 5:30:

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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