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Do Democrats Fear Tea Party Power?

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Comedian Victoria Jackson at a tea party rally in Buffalo, N.Y.AP

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 13, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: If you doubt the power of the tea parties, listen to this! House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer admits the tea parties are having an impact on the thinking of members as they make a decision whether or not to run for reelection. Congressman Hoyer insists, however, that Congressman Bart Stupak was not pushed into retirement by tea party activists.

Joining us right now is St. Louis Tea Party organizer Dana Loesch. Dana, just as an aside, do you agree with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer that Congressman Bart Stupak's decision was made independent of the Tea Party movement, or do you think the Tea Party movement had an influence on his decision not to run again in November?

Well, Dana can't hear me, so I guess I'm sort of stuck with myself on that one. And I guess we'll fix the audio. Can we fix the audio for Dana? Now I hear it. They're working on it. Why do I feel like Shepard Smith all of a sudden?

DANA LOESCH, ST. LOUIS TEA PARTY ORGANIZER: Yes, now I hear you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, good!

LOESCH: It totally cut out.

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: You just saved me. I just had a really -- I just had the world's longest question, too. That was so long.

(LAUGHTER)

VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, let me ask you the short -- let me ask you the short version.

LOESCH: OK.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you have any influence, the Tea Party movement, on Bart -- on Congressman Bart Stupak making a decision not to run again in November?

LOESCH: Oh, I think it did. I think it had a huge influence. And I know, you know, Steny Hoyer doesn't -- the comments that he made -- I know that he doesn't want to give the tea parties any more credit than -- I wouldn't if I were a Democrat. I'd be scared half to death! I would want to do whatever it was -- whatever I could in my power to make sure that I wasn't giving them an inch.

But bottom line, I think it absolutely did. And one of the reasons that I say this is because right at the time that Stupak announced his resignation, there was a poll that was released by USA Today and Gallup. And out of the people that were polled, 41 percent of them did not have a very favorable rating -- or only 41 percent, rather, had a favorable rating of Democrats. And it's weird because this is the lowest mark that this question has received in the 18 years that it's been asked. And then a year before that, just a year before that, Democrats had an edge in that poll by 11 points.

So I look at that. I look at the number of independents who are flocking to the polls, the independents who have given victories to Republicans in Virginia and in New Jersey and Massachusetts. And then I think of this Rasmussen poll that was just released last week which shows that the majority of Americans identify more with the policy and the issues that are coming from tea party activists and grass roots activists moreso than they are identifying with the stuff coming from the Democratic Congress.

So I look at this and I say that absolutely, not only are the tea parties having an impact generally, but they had a huge impact as far as Stupak resigning. And they can say that it didn't matter, but it absolutely did. All signs point to yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's sort of stunning, though, is that, you know, they're slowly coming around to the fact that the tea party movement has an impact, with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer finally saying that. And I think to myself, you know, why didn't they see the writing on the wall last summer? I mean, members of Congress would go home and they'd get yelled at at these town hall meetings, and they would just -- you know, just sort of dismiss the people that attended the town hall meetings, which I think are largely people who are part of the Tea Party movement.

But it's just so -- they were so dismissive. Now you see that the Tea Party movement is getting big headliners, Governor Palin's going to Boston, I think, Carly Fiorina's going to be in California on April 15th. Now they're -- now they're -- now the Tea Party movement's getting a lot of respect.

LOESCH: Yes. Absolutely. And I think for a really long time, those who were trying to negate the validity and the power of the grass roots movement, I think that they bought into their own hype that it was just nothing more than a fringe. And we see that now it absolutely isn't the case. This is mainstream America. And I said it before. I think it's even almost unfair to call it a Tea Party movement anymore. This is the general public now.

VAN SUSTEREN: But how do you -- if you want to have influence, do you just want to be a provocateur and cause trouble, or do you want to actually, you know, be more -- to actually make decisions? I mean, you are a thorn in the side of the Republican Party to some extent, a thorn in the side of the Democratic Party, but you can also be the spoiler. I mean, how -- how do you convert that instead of just being the provocateur spoiler into actually accomplishing something that you want?

LOESCH: By being constructive about it. One of the things that I always look at when it comes to talking to tea party activists, any kind of conservative activists, is I firmly believe in going into the GOP and consuming it from the bottom up and really focusing on those candidates, rewarding the candidates who are sticking to core Republican conservative values, rewarding those candidates with support. And I think that we're starting to see some of that. We see people getting around, people like Todd Aiken (ph) and Michele Bachmann, and I hope we're going to start seeing some more support for John (INAUDIBLE) out there in Nevada. I mean, that's what we -- that's what we see happening.

VAN SUSTEREN: And...

LOESCH: So that's what I would say.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... we're all going to be watching to see what happens on April 15th because a lot of these tea parties are going to have events on the 15th. We'll see how much enthusiasm on that date. Dana, thank you, as always.

LOESCH: Thanks, Greta.

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