Seeking every last bit of support ahead of the 2010 midterm elections, the Republican leadership is reaching out to Tea Party activists who may still be wary of falling in line with the GOP. Many members of the Tea Party movement still feel that to remain true to their grassroots identity, they cannot affiliate too closely with the political establishment. But Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who was denied a speaking slot at an April Tea Party protest, is meeting with 50 Tea Party leaders from at least a dozen states this week in an effort to convince them that the Republican Party, too, is a grassroots organization. "It is not a melding [of the movement with the GOP]," said Karin Hoffman, founder of a South Florida Tea Party group called DC Works For U. "It is not an effort to absorb it. We're still maintaining our autonomy."
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