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CBS's Cordes: Tea Party Causing 'Heartburn' for GOP

Reporting on the creation of a Senate Tea Party Caucus on Thursday's CBS Evening News, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes declared that while "Conservative crusader Jim Demint, and the freshmen Senators he worked to elect, planted their Tea Party flag," the movement's "assertiveness has caused some heartburn for GOP leaders."

As evidence of the supposed indigestion, Cordes cited favorite media targets, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin: "Bachmann insisted on delivering a separate Tea Party response to the State of the Union....Tea Party enthusiast Sarah Palin invoked a vulgar acronym to describe the President's speech." Cordes was referring to Palin's comment that "There were a lot of WTF moments throughout that speech."

Cordes explained how "friction between the Republican Party and the Tea Party doesn't trouble supporters," followed by sound bite of Kansas Congressman Jerry Moran: "It's my goal to see that Republicans listen to Tea Party activists and others about what government should be like." However, Cordes quickly touted possible divisions: "Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is one of a couple of new senators who won big in November with Tea Party support, but who steered clear of the meeting today, indicating they're not completely comfortable with taking on the Tea Party mantle."

Anchor Katie Couric wondered: "So where does this new Tea Party Caucus go from here? It is gaining or losing steam at this point, do you think, Nancy?" Cordes skeptically replied: "I think they could make a credible case that they are gaining steam...they say it doesn't really matter that some of their figureheads are lightning rods, when it's their supporters who are so energized."

Prior to the President's State of the Union address Tuesday night, Couric and a panel of CBS analysts fretted over the "militant" Tea Party members of Congress creating a "chasm" within the Republican Party.

Here is a full transcript of Cordes' January 27 report:

6:38PM ET

KATIE COURIC: To politics now and the growing power of the Tea Party movement. Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes reports five Republican senators today attended the first-ever meeting of the Senate Tea Party caucus.

JIM DEMINT [SEN. R-SC]: Thank you for sending me some help.

NANCY CORDES: Conservative crusader Jim Demint, and the freshmen Senators he worked to elect, planted their Tea Party flag today.

MIKE LEE [SEN. R-UT]: We'll do everything we can to fight on your behalf to restore constitutionally limited government.

CORDES: The Tea Party Caucus claimed credit today for the GOP's new hardline on spending.

MITCH MCCONNELL [SEN. R-KY]: We will do everything we can to cut wasteful government spending.

CORDES: They even see their influence in the President's State of the Union address.

BARACK OBAMA: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.

RAND PAUL [SEN, R-KY] Did that come from his side of the party or did that come from the Tea Party?

CORDES: Their assertiveness has caused some heartburn for GOP leaders, like when Congresswoman Michele Bachmann insisted on delivering a separate Tea Party response to the State of the Union.

MICHELE BACHMANN [REP. R-MN]: Let me show you a chart.

CORDES: And when Tea Party enthusiast Sarah Palin invoked a vulgar acronym to describe the President's speech.

SARAH PALIN: His them last night in the State of the Union was the WTF, you know, 'winning the future.' And I thought, okay, that acronym, spot on. There were a lot of WTF moments throughout that speech.

CORDES: But friction between the Republican Party and the Tea Party doesn't trouble supporters, who say that's the whole point.

JERRY MORAN [REP. R-KS]: It's my goal to see that Republicans listen to Tea Party activists and others about what government should be like.

CORDES: Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is one of a couple of new senators who won big in November with Tea Party support, but who steered clear of the meeting today, indicating they're not completely comfortable with taking on the Tea Party mantle, Katie.

COURIC: So where does this new Tea Party Caucus go from here? It is gaining or losing steam at this point, do you think, Nancy?

CORDES: Well Katie, I think they could make a credible case that they are gaining steam, that the Republican leadership is reading right out of their playbook right now and they say it doesn't really matter that some of their figureheads are lightning rods, when it's their supporters who are so energized.

COURIC: Alright, Nancy Cordes on Capitol Hill tonight. Nancy, thank you.

- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.