Published December 20, 2015
Donald Trump’s run for the Republican presidential nomination is channeling the kind of energy that helped 2010 Tea Party-backed candidates sweep establishment Republicans and Democrats alike out of Congress, Michael Needham, leader of the conservative Heritage Action for America group, suggested Sunday.
“There’s going to be a candidate who says it’s time for us to change,” Needham, the super-PAC’s executive officer, told “Fox News Sunday.” “That candidate is going to be someone who unites traditional Republicans, the Tea Party, all sorts of independents and former Democrats. … It’s not just Tea Partiers. For a lot of Americans right now, they feel disconnected from Washington.”
Needham and his group, the political arm of the long-influential Heritage Foundation, have frequently led the charge against the positions of GOP House and Senate leadership, most recently House Speaker John Boehner’s support of the Export-Import Bank, which critics say perpetuates "crony capitalism" by giving disproportionate government assistance to large corporations that don't need it.
The group also supported Tea Party-backed Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s 2013 successful attempt to partially shut down the federal government over funding ObamaCare.
The self-funded Trump, a billionaire New York real estate tycoon, now sits at or near the top of numerous polls.
He has eschewed the support of wealth political donors and the Washington establishment, including at times the Republican National Committee.
And he has repeatedly attempted to take down some of the Republican guard’s most established members, including senior Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a member of the Bush family political dynasty who also is at the top of most polls.
The Tea Party movement was a grass-roots effort based on the principals of less taxes and smaller government.
“People are sick of the establishment and hate their party,” said Needham, who is not a Trump supporter. “And that’s what needs to be addressed. The reason Donald Trump is generating a lot of enthusiasm is that he's ticking off the right people."