Saturday Night Live mocked the desperation of Republicans trying to squeeze anything out of the Benghazi hearings, but Republicans and Tea Party groups are having the last laugh at the end of President Obama's worst week ever, as the IRS and AP scandals are likely to be a cash cow for fundraising.
“The irony of the IRS scandal is they drove the point the Tea Party was making all along — that government can get too big,” said Matt Kibbe, head of Tea Party group FreedomWorks. What we are likely to see is a repeat of the 2010 midterm elections in 2014, and the conservative fundraising platform will be centered on these scandals accusing Democrats as co-conspirators to President Obama's agenda.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus sent out a rallying cry to supporters on Wednesday asking for donations of $25 and higher to "hold President Obama and the Democrats accountable" for their "abuses of power." Conservatives had been squeezing the 'cover up' of Benghazi for months until this week's double whammy of actual breaches of power by the administration.
Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS has already put out an ad slamming this week's scandals, is assuredly one of many conservative "social welfare programs" galvanizing their donor base in the coming weeks.
The Tea Party groups are also seizing this opportunity to revive their base and their coffers. Teaparty.net started capitalizing on the scandal from Tuesday alone, sending out hyperbolic (but effective) emails: "[President] Obama wants this IRS to enforce ObamaCare! The same IRS that enforces Obama’s 'Enemy’s List?'"
The Affordable Care Act is likely to come roaring back into the spotlight for conservative fundraising because of the IRS's convoluted role in its implementation.
The timing of this scandal is highly opportune to the Tea Party, even more so than the Republicans. GOP strategist Ford O'Connor added that, “the Tea Party’s been pinning its hopes on Obamacare to get back in the news." Support for the Tea Party has been decimated since the election; their popularity cratered to an all-time low of 23% just this January.
Kibbe explained the "perfect storm" of the scandals to The Hill: "The scandal resonates with voters because the IRS is almost universally unpopular. It also underscores the importance of civil liberties with respect to economic issues." The bipartisan criticism of the scandals further validates the outrage likely to be seen in conservative fundraising campaigns going forward.
Republican strategists believe that they don't even have to really spin the scandals because of the grievous overreach of the administration. However, to go beyond fundraising and actually win back the Senate Republicans and Tea Partiers will have to step up and offer actionable alternatives to President Obama.
For now, they can sound the alarms.