HOUSTON—The Tea Party has come onto the political map in a big way. The group has organized rallies, supported candidates and mobilized the Republican base.
But what is the movement really about?
Liz Foley, Communications Director with the North Houston Tea Party, said it's not just taxes.
"We want limited government. We want fiscal responsibility. We want to protect the Constitution and absolutely eliminate those unnecessary taxes," she said.
Foley is part of the 8,000-members strong North Houston Tea Party. She said that locally, the group focuses on getting out the vote and plans events that attract thousands of people.
But while the group doesn't actually endorse candidates, some of the candidates it has supported nationally have raised eyebrows.
Christine O'Donnell, who is running for senate in Delaware, has fought off allegations relating to bad debts, inappropriately using campaign funds and now fudging her education history.
Carl Paladino, another Tea Party ally who is running for Governor of New York, has also been scrutinized for allegedly forwarding racist jokes and pornographic images to friends through email and making a number of bold and controversial comments.
Foley said the national media unequally vets conservative candidates. She said voters should do their homework and focus on the issues.
University of Houston Political science Professor Brandon Rottinghaus said the Tea Party's mobilization comes from anger over current policies. He said the group has built tremendous momentum but its candidates may not be as well vetted.
"It's not surprising to see those people (the Republicans) are putting some distance between the candidates that have emerged from the Tea Party movement and their own homegrown candidates," he said.
Rottinghaus said the Republican Party could deteriorate if it tries to distance itself much from the Tea Party and the candidates it supports. For now, he said he does not see that happening. In fact, he said this could all lead to a stronger, more unified Republican Party before and after election day.