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MSNBC's Wagner Suggests Tea Party Only 'Represents 2 Percent of the Public'

Media Research CenterOn Wednesday's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, at the end of a discussion on the government shutdown, substitute host Alex Wagner tried to marginalize Tea Party conservatives as only representing "two percent of the public" after guest and MSNBC.com Executive Editor Richard Wolffe blamed the congressional Republican leadership for allowing Tea Party members to have so much influence. Wolffe:

I do think, just to pick up this last point, they only have power, these Tea Party Republicans, because their leadership gives them that power. There are not enough of them without the complicity of the leadership.

Wagner responded:

Right, I think it's 15 percent of the party, which represents two percent of the American public. Don't quote me on the statistics.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Wednesday, October 2, The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC:

ALEX WAGNER: Richard, I want to ask you, because you just wrote a book about the Obama White House. Nancy Pelosi was asked if the President would just raise the debt ceiling on his own and she sort of said, "No," and backed away from answering more fully that question. Do you think he is prepared to go on to the mat on this? Do you think he will risk impeachment or the threat of impeachment and raise the debt ceiling? Do you think he is that convicted about this?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC.COM EXECUTIVE EDITOR: No. I don't think he will. I think they've got a clear legal reading on this, that he does not currently have the power to do that. Now, you can change the law and place it, really, this, Congress has budget setting power. But the idea that they have both budget-setting power and debt ceiling power is going to have to be revisited at some stage.

I do think, just to pick up this last point, they only have power, these Tea Party Republicans, because their leadership gives them that power. There are not enough of them without the complicity of the leadership.

WAGNER: Right, I think it's 15 percent of the party, which represents two percent of the American public. Don't quote me on the statistics. Former Congressman Steve LaTourette and our very own Richard Wolffe -- thank you both for joining me tonight.