For once, we agree with S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley …

In attempting to sell the conservative virtues of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to South Carolina voters this weekend, Haley declared that there is “no such thing” as a Tea Party candidate.

She’s right …

There is no such thing as a Tea Party candidate because let’s face … in this state there’s no such thing as a “Tea Party.”

Sure, there are groups in South Carolina that have slapped the “Tea Party” label onto themselves, but for the most part these are organizations that were started (or have been co-opted) by a bunch of Republican activists – just like the “Tea Party Caucus” in Washington, D.C. has been co-opted by opportunistic panderers like U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann or full-fledged RINOs like U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson.

Wanna see what this South Carolina “Tea Party” looks like?

Click here … or here.

More importantly, there’s no such thing as a Tea Party candidate because as it turns out any candidate can call themselves “Tea Party” – just as any candidate can call themselves a “Republican.”

It’s a label whose meaning has been debased worse than our currency.

Romney? He’s neither a “Tea Party” candidate nor even really a Republican one.

Unless of course you believe tax-and-spend liberalism, crony capitalism and socialized medicine are “Tea Party” or “Republican” virtues.

For his part, though, Romney said this weekend that his positions lined up “pretty darn well” with those of Tea Party members – a statement that in a just world would have been greeted by a bolt of lightning descending upon his head.

“I line up with a smaller government, a less intrusive government, regulations being pared back, holding down the tax rates of the American people, maintaining a strong defense, and so many Tea Party folks are going to find me, I believe to be the ideal candidate,” Romney said.

“I sure hope so,” he added.

We sure hope not.

If either Romney or former U.S. Speaker Newt Gingrich is the nominee, the Republican Party might as well pack it up because it clearly learned nothing from its recent journey into the political wilderness.

As we’ve noted, there is only one GOP candidate who can credibly lay claim to the “Tea Party” label (or for that matter the Republican imprimatur).

“The Tea Party movement? It belongs to Ron Paul – whether those who slap that label on themselves or their candidates of choice ever recognize or acknowledge it,” we wrote in our endorsement of Paul’s candidacy earlier this month.

Pic: via Daylife