In the two years since it first gained prominence, the Tea Party has helped shape Republican Party policy, pushing conservatives farther right on fiscal and social issues.

Some would like to dismiss the group as a fringe movement, but Tea Partiers argue that they've become the mainstream, with vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan trumpeting their views.

The Tea Party-backed standoff in Congress in the summer of 2011, when Republicans refused to raise the country's borrowing limit and risked a potential financial meltdown, illustrated how powerful they might be.

Al Jazeera's John Hendren reports.

Source: Al Jazeera