Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is going on the offense for his father, GOP presidential candidate and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), claiming the tea party mantle and saying his dad’s opponents “simply do not represent the tea party, the conservative movement, or the type of change our country desperately needs in 2012.”

In a Thursday op-ed for the Des Moines Register, Paul says that both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich both have past positions that are disqualifying.

Both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich supported the outrageous $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, bailouts — “one of the most unpopular government programs in American history,” even according to President Obama’s own Treasury Department.

Both Romney and Gingrich have been outspoken and unapologetic supporters of the individual mandate. This is the heart and soul of ObamaCare.

Since the tea party started as a reaction to Republicans who voted for TARP, and was strengthened into a national political force during the fight over ObamaCare, I believe this disqualifies both Romney and Gingrich from tea party support.

Sen. Paul is an early leader of the tea party movement and his father, backed by legions of young people, could be the spoiler of the Iowa caucuses as he has gained momentum there and has a strong organization in the state.

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