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Tea Party divided over possible Romney campaign

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One big problem for splinter groups is that they tend to keep splintering. According to the Huffington Post, two major factions of the Tea Party are fighting over whether to support Mitt Romney in the event he's nominated for the Republican presidential candidacy.

To be clear, few in the Tea Party really like Romney, but one group, Tea Party Express, has expressed their support for him on the grounds that they just want somebody to beat Barack Obama. Over the weekend, Tea Party Express co-chairman Amy Kremer told Fox News that "Whoever the Republican nominee is will have to have the support of the Tea Party movement — the entire Tea Party movement… There is no way that we are going to support a third-party candidate. It would split the vote and it would guarantee reelection for Obama, and we need to crush Obama. We have to get him out of the White House."

But another group, the Tea Party Patriots, expressed their disapproval, attacking Kremer for claiming to speak for the entire party. Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin released a statement saying, "A pledge of allegiance to the Republican Party, or any other party, violates what the Tea Party movement is all about and is completely out of touch with grassroots Americans."

Tea Party Patriots and Tea Party Express are two of the largest groups in the movement and both claim to represent millions of people. A third, FreedomWorks, has already criticized Romney, with FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe telling The Daily Caller that "looking at Romneycare, it’s very difficult to figure out how you get to an acceptable Tea Party standard while still defending an individual mandate." Kibbe suggests that Romney needed to apologize for the health-care plan he instituted as governor of Massachusetts, which resembles Obama's health-care plan in several ways. (The Onion also suggested that Romney might end up needing to apologize, but to them, this idea was hilarious.)

Kibbe also told the Huffington Post that if Romney gets nominated for the presidency, many Tea Partiers probably won't vote. His communications director, Adam Brandon, added that FreedomWorks is "nervous about this presidential race. I’m not going to hide that."

They have good reason to be nervous; in polls, Romney is well at the lead of Republican candidates, with a distant second going to Sarah Palin. In October, The Washington Post canvassed Tea Party organizers, asking, "Which national figure best represents your groups?" 15% said the answer was Palin; 34% said no one. Romney didn't even place. This could get ugly.