OTR Interviews

Loesch: IRS sparked 'second coming' of Tea Party

'Government Power Grab?': Talk show host says we're seeing 'Tea Party 2.0' because of the IRS's targeting of conservatives


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 21, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now, some conservatives say it's time to abolish the IRS completely. Is the cause reenergizing the Tea Party? We spoke with Dana Loesch, host of "The Dana Show."


Dana, nice to see you.

DANA LOESCH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Nice to see you, Greta. Thanks for having me back.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, in light of all that's going on with the IRS targeting the Tea Party groups, is the Tea Party more fired up, or as is, or is it less fired up?

LOESCH: It seems to me that it's Tea Party 2.0. I think this is the second coming of the Tea Party movement. After the election, everyone just sort of went into a lull. They gathered their strength again. A lot of people who had never been involved in politics before understandably were burned out. They don't live it and breathe it, like some of us political nerds do.

So there's a lot of new energy. There's a resurgence of energy. And with the IRS stuff, too, I think that this has attracted a lot of individuals before who maybe perhaps were put off by the Tea Party, some of what they heard, you know, the leftist media, the messaging that they had about the Tea Party because I think people now are realizing this is really about limited government.

We're even warning -- we're warning our brethren on the left, so to speak, to say, Look, you know, this should scare you because what happens if you get Republicans in the White House? They could use these same things against you as are being used against us.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you getting respect from the Republicans? Are you getting respect from the Democrats, or even from the federal government, or do they see you as an annoyance, the Tea Party?

LOESCH: I think some will always see it as an annoyance. I mean, we're sort of, in a way, like the little gnat that's buzzing around the head of big government. There are certain Republicans who really don't like us. I mean, we've been called "wacko birds" by Senator John McCain, and we've been called even worse by folks on the left, elected Democrat officials.

But that means we're doing our job. If we're getting under their skin -- we're -- we have an antagonistic relationship with the government, so to speak, and with elected officials, not maliciously so, but to have a relationship that's in the best interests of the people. These folks derive their power from the consent of the government, and we're here to remind them of that.

VAN SUSTEREN: You say it's not a malicious relationship, but certainly, in light of the fact that the IRS specifically targeted you -- I mean, they're not targeting the rest of us.


VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, they're targeting the Tea Party. I mean, it really is quite direct. I mean, it is a message from the federal government. You know, they're going to -- you know, they've got a -- they've got a message for you.

LOESCH: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, these weren't progressive groups. And I know that there are some Democrats -- I think it was Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein, I think perhaps some others, who said, Well, you know, there were a couple of other groups targeted.

We're talking about over 500 Tea Party groups that have been denied or had their tax-exempt applications sort of drawn out into a song and dance that's lasted for several years. Progressives, when they filed, they didn't use the terms "Tea Party." They didn't use the terms "Patriot." I mean, BOLO, be on the lookout, was an interdepartmental memo that was put out by the IRS specifically stating, These are the terms that these group are using to describe themselves, so you need to be on the lookout for these terms.

What the government did was to say, Be on the lookout for the Tea Party.

VAN SUSTEREN: Which politicians really sort of get you? Because I assume that many politicians do a little pandering to you and trying to make sure they get the Tea Party vote, and as the Tea Party grows, you're really going to get a lot of pandering, if it does grow, because they want your vote.

But which -- which politicians do you think really get you?

LOESCH: That's a really great question. There are certainly some who are a little bit antagonistic. I know Mitch McConnell's been kind of antagonistic towards the Tea Party, and now because he's going to be facing reelection, he's, like, the biggest conservative in the world now.

I would say that, by and large, the folks who have been really, really consistent are Representative Michele Bachmann, Steve King, Tom Price, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz. These are individuals who -- Pat Toomey -- who from the very beginning, either from the beginning of the movement or from the beginning of their time as a public official, have really understood the goal and the message of the grass roots movement.

And they -- they've listened to the people, and that's all that grass roots has ever wanted. They don't want to be -- they don't want politicians in their pocket. They just want the politicians to listen. Again, it comes back to that consent of the governed.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there one sort of, I guess, (INAUDIBLE) on the wish list -- who do you think right now, if the Tea Party could select someone to run for president, who -- who would be the sort of the one that would be most appreciated by the Tea Party to run?

LOESCH: Well, I mean, I have my personal picks. I think you're going to get a varied answer, depending upon who in the Tea Party with whom you speak. But I definitely have some people that I would like to see take a run at it. A lot can happen, though, between now and 2016, so I'm a little bit hesitant.

But I would say I would love to see -- gosh, that's a tough -- I would love to see names like Rand Paul thrown in the mix or Ted Cruz thrown in the mix. There are some really good folks out there who I think would do grass roots proud and do we the people pretty proud.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dana, always nice to see you. It's going to be interesting. You're right, it's long way off from 2014 or 2016, actually, but it's always fascinating to talk about it and just to see how this unfolds. Thank you for joining us. Nice to see you.

LOESCH: Exactly. Thanks, Greta.