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GOP vs. Tea Party: The Issues Dividing Both Sides

The Tea Party on Tuesday night made it perfectly clear it will be a force to be reckoned with in November.

But the infighting between Tea Partiers and Republican leadership has set up a showdown between traditional politics and activist ideology. Here's a look at what the differences are in several key issues that will come into play in the next seven weeks.

National Debt: This is the priority for the Tea Party activists as the country's explosive $13 trillion debt helped spark the movement in 2009 when members protested government bailouts, the massive $800 billion stimulus package and President Obama's health care overhaul.

Tea Partiers want to balance the budget, end runaway government spending, including pet projects for lawmakers known as "pork," and stop the tax hikes.

While Republicans aren't opposed to those demands, they have come under fire for running up the deficit when they were in power, including the $700 billion Medicare prescription drug benefit that wasn't paid for and initiating the bailout of Wall Street and the auto industry after the 2008 economic collapse.

Tea Party favorite Rand Paul in Kentucky has vowed to "vote against and filibuster any unbalanced budget proposal in the Senate."

Tax cuts: This is an issue where Tea Partiers and mainstream Republicans agree. Both sides have called on extending the Bush tax cuts, saying their expiration even for the wealthiest Americans would amount to a tax hike that could imperil a fragile recovery.

Size of Federal Government: Tea Party believes in smaller government. Activists, including candidates Sharron Angle in Nevada and Rand Paul in Kentucky, have proposed abolishing the Energy and Education departments and the Federal Reserve.

Republicans also believe in limited government, but they have attacked candidates calling for the abolition of federal agencies as out of the mainstream.

Social Security: Tea Partiers have called for privatizing Social Security. But when President Bush made the same proposal in 2005, it was a nonstarter among Republicans in Congress.

Immigration: Tea Partiers supported Arizona's illegal immigration law that a judge mostly blocked this summer.

Republicans have also expressed support for the law but many conservatives are still mad at the party for trying to pass comprehensive immigration reform twice under President Bush that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.

Health Care: Tea Partiers want to defund, repeal and replace the law. While Republicans have echoed similar sentiments, Tea Partiers are concerned that Republicans won't follow through on their promise if they regain power.

Energy: Tea Partiers call for the rejection of cap and trade, a policy that would cap the carbon emissions that energy companies release into the atmosphere and force companies to trade permits to emit.

Many Republicans also have opposed the policy, deriding it as cap and tax. But some Republicans who have supported it have paid a political price, most recently Rep. Mike Castle.