The real test for the tea party will come after the mid-term elections. That's the claim from one of the movement's biggest supporters Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). Paul tell Fox News, "Nothing is going to happen overnight. You have to change a whole theory of government... In very short order after the election, you'll find out whether they are going to move in that direction."
Paul is one of the headliners at the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Convention, the largest gathering like this in the nation. Organizers say more than 2,800 people have shown up to the two day event.
Paul, a champion of limited government, likes what he's heard at the convention. He told attendees, "I believe we can agree on the fact the government we have in Washington is too big. And you can hardly solve the problem of a government being too big with making it bigger."
Paul says the tea party has had a lot of influence so far in the primaries. But what can you read into that about after the election? Paul says that's the big question, "Even those who stay in Washington who weren't part of the tea party movement should feel the pressure from the tea party movement. But the question remains are they going to do better? Are we, as republicans, going to do better?"
Paul adds we may not see a fundamental change in government even if tea party candidates win this November because, "You are not going to see a fundamental change in budgeting. Even if the republicans are in control of the house, that doesn't mean they control the government. We might not have the Senate, we don't have the veto power and even when we did, it didn't do much good. I would say the test is out there, but we have to be on record for cutting spending. We have to be more precise."
Ron Paul's son Rand Paul is another tea party darling. And, when asked about his son's Kentucky Senate race Paul told Fox his son's whole campaign was built on the tea party movement. He says his son, who won the state's republican nomination, "Attended both Republican and tea party events during his primary. But, his tea party events were many times bigger, much bigger, than any republican event."
As for a 2012 presidential run, Ron Paul said he's not certain. "Who knows? That is way off yet. I haven't decided that. A lot of people ask me that. I haven't ruled it out. but I'm far from -- a long way from deciding that."
Later this month, Paul will head to Iowa. It will be his third trip to the first-in-the-nation caucus state this year.