Did congressional candidate Richard Tisei diss the Tea Party? Did his schedulers mess up?
Those are questions people are asking after a mix-up with press releases and a no-show at the Tea Party Candidates Night.
First, on Aug. 8, the Merrimack Valley Tea Party listed Tisei as a confirmed speaker at the Aug. 15 event -- which was to host conservative candidates from state and congressional races in the region to discuss conservative ideas and raise money.
Then the day of the event, Congressman John Tierney's communications director Grant Herring sent out a media alert Wednesday afternoon mocking Tisei about the event.
"Richard Tisei will be explaining why he thinks the Tea Party is a “godsend” and why he is strongly supporting Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan," Herring wrote. "Tisei will explain why he thinks Ryan’s budget is a good start, why Medicare needs to change for people under 50, and why cuts to Medicare and Social Security should be on the table."
Almost immediately afterward, Tisei's campaign manager Paul Moore sent out a media alert titled, "Grant Herring: New Tisei Scheduler," mocking Herring's media release:
"Press advisories from Congressman John Tierney's campaign should always be taken with a grain of salt (or a stiff drink), particularly when they claim to know the schedule of Congressional candidate Richard Tisei."
That's not exactly clear yet. Here's what we know:
- Tisei was listed as a confirmed speaker on the Tea Party announcement.
- Tierney spokesperson Grant Herring sent out an email alerting the media that Tisei would be there.
- Tisei's team sent out an email effectively calling Herring a liar.
- Tisei's communications director Christian Berle is quoted in the Eagle-Tribune as saying Tisei was unable to attend but was sending Moore to the event to speak in Tisei's place.
- The Eagle-Tribune reported that no one from Tisei's campaign showed up.
- Moore said he attended and was standing in the back of the room but didn't speak at the event.
So did Tisei bail on the Tea Party at the last minute?
That doesn't seem to be the case. Tisei's campaign says he had a fundraiser in Boston Wednesday night so couldn't attend the Merrimack Valley Tea Party event.
And the Tea Party is saying he was not a confirmed speaker.
"The Tisei scheduler was given the information a while ago. She did not confirm the date," said Jamison Tomasek of the Merrimack Valley Tea Party. "I followed up but as of a few weeks ago it was still unconfirmed. We had a place allotted on the schedule and kept him as unconfirmed. Yesterday [Wednesday] the Tisei campaigned contacted me about sending a surrogate and I discussed this with the leadership team. We are all about fairness, and we did not offer this to other candidates who could not attend, so we said 'no' to the Tisei campaign."
There is no word on whether Tisei plans to attend a Merrimack Valley Tea Party meeting inn the future. But it would seem that theories that Tisei suddenly bailed on them due to philosophical differences or in the wake of Paul Ryan being named Romney's vice presidential pick are likely not accurate.