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National Tea Party group forms political action committee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Organizers of the National Tea Party Convention announced Friday the formation of a political action committee aimed at electing up to 20 candidates this fall who adhere to conservative principles embraced by the grass-roots "tea party" movement.

The PAC, Ensuring Liberty Corp., will give money and resources to candidates who advocate fiscal responsibility, less government, lower taxes, states' rights and strong national security, convention spokesman Mark Skoda told reporters.

Skoda, who heads the Memphis Tea Party, said the PAC would immediately support a half-dozen congressional races in Tennessee and other states and would look for additional candidates to back.

"It is not a litmus test," Skoda said. "This is a way by which people who have worked so hard thus far in the rallies, whose voices have not been heard, will be able to participate with their talents and their treasures - and ultimately assure that the people are elected."

Skoda added: "We're not attempting to replace the Republican National Committee. We're not attempting to co-opt the RNC."

The announcement of a PAC marks the first concrete strategy from the tea party movement to create tangible political successes this year. The movement, which began last year in opposition to President Barack Obama's policies, is made up of hundreds of tea party groups and by design has no national leadership.

Some prominent leaders of tea party groups boycotted the convention, organized by the social networking site Tea Party Nation, in protest of the $549 registration fee and allegations of profiteering.

Despite the registration-fee controversy, organizers were energized by signs that the political climate may be shifting in their favor and were eagerly awaiting the arrival of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who will address the group Saturday night.

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