Donald Trump co-opted the Tea Party platform on the campaign trail and has so far managed to merge the Tea Party movement with “Trumpism.”

Lawmakers swept into office during the Tea Party wave recognize that President Trump took the mantle, but Tea Party and like-minded groups warn they stand ready to snatch it back if he strays from the core principles.

“Part of the Tea Party movement has been seeking leadership [and] I think that’s what Trump has brought,” said Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., who was first elected in 2010. “I think that’s probably allowed the Tea Party movement to not be as demanding now that someone is leading them.”

“There may not even be a need for it right now,” he said, speaking of the Tea Party Caucus that former Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., started in the House. “You’ve got the bully pulpit by a very vocal, assertive, conservative who is going forward with what he campaigned on, which are essentially the principles the Tea Party campaigned on six years ago.”

Ohio Republican Steve Stivers, who is also a member of the Tea Party class, said the movement was critical to Trump’s win.

“They’ve been a shot in the arm to our party since 2010 that’s helped us not only win Congress… but the White House now,” Stivers said. Trump “picked up a lot of those ideas and may be the standard bearer now for Tea Party groups. They’re clearly not at his direction [and] I don’t know that they will always defer to the president, but I think the president certainly shares a view with them that I think is going to create a bond over time.”

Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots, an umbrella organization for hundreds of local groups, said Trump’s inaugural speech sounded themes she wanted to hear.

“He said he was returning power back to the people, which is what the Tea Party advocates,” she said. “We empower our local activists.”

For now her organization’s priorities and Trump’s align. For example, the group’s main initiative is supporting Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, federal Judge Neil Gorsuch. But she does not consider Trump the movement’s leader.

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“We still have thousands of leaders around the country who want personal freedom, economic freedom and a debt-free future,” she said.

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who co-founded the Tea Party Caucus with Bachmann, said members “are learning our way with Mr. Trump. [He] has ideas about making America great and sometimes we agree with some of those ideas, and sometimes they weren’t our first thought. But I think that Mr. Trump should be judged on his performance of the fight and engaging on behalf of the American people.”

Jason Pye, Freedom Works’ legislative director, said Trump and the Tea Party share some common goals, but they are not one in the same.

“There are going to be times where he’s going to want to do something that the grassroots are going to push back against,” he said, citing Trump’s push for a massive infrastructure project. “We don’t have the money. There are likely going to be conflicts.”

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., said “Trumpism” and the Tea Party are just the latest manifestations of conservatives. Whatever it’s called, key tenants are supposed to be cutting the deficit and curbing government spending, which seem to have fallen by the wayside since Trump’s surprise victory, since the Trump administration is not talking about those issues, Sanford said.

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“We’re going to have a big fight on spending in this Congress” because Trump and Republican leaders are pushing initiatives that all have major effects on taxes and spending, he said. That includes overhauling the tax code, repealing the healthcare law, building a border wall and rolling out a huge infrastructure undertaking.

“We have a day of reckoning that’s going to bring it back to the forefront based on a demographic time bomb, based on [Congressional Budget Office] projections… and simple math,” Sanford said. Those realities and their agenda will “spark this debate on spending that I think is coming our way this year.”

Barney Keller, a Republican strategist previously with the Club for Growth, said voters who were drawn to the Tea Party’s message will be “Trump Republicans,” as they care about the same issues.

However, “if he takes diametrically opposed stances” from what the Tea Party and conservative Republicans expect, the honeymoon could end abruptly.

“His recent moves certainly give conservatives a lot to be happy about,” Keller said.

Al Weaver contributed to this report.

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