And it begins. . Hatchs had enough from groups tied to tea party Sen. Orrin Hatch and his campaign team have heard enough from their most vocal critics and are fighting back, lambasting the leaders of FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth as hypocrites and political has-beens struggling to remain relevant. The groups counter that Hatchs broadside is "a sign of weakness" and an attempt to shift the conversation away from past votes that may derail his 2012 re-election bid. This spat comes at a time when Hatch has no declared challenger but still has faced repeated criticisms from these tea party-affiliated groups, which argue that he is not conservative enough, a campaign reminiscent of the way they attacked former Utah Sen. Bob Bennett in 2010. Their latest jabs focus on the debt-limit debate that consumed Washington in recent weeks. FreedomWorks created mailers and the Club released a television ad slamming Hatch for repeatedly voting to increase the amount of money the nation can borrow, which he has supported 16 times since joining the Senate in 1977. But Hatchs staffers, led by campaign manager Dave Hansen, say they wont lie back and take such attacks, particularly from people who have long voting records of their own. FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey voted at least twice to raise the debt ceiling as a former House majority leader, and Club for Growth President Chris Chocola did so three times as a congressman from Indiana. Hansen called them "extremely hypocritical," and he didnt stop there. "In the case of Dick Armey, this is a retired congressman from somewhere in Texas who is trying to remain significant in the political realm," he said. "And with Chris Chocola, here is a guy who is a defeated congressman from Indiana. They are just trying to do what they can to promote their outside interests." . *snip* It was only a matter of time before the teabaggers were thrown under the bus. Their usefulness is coming to an end, and are now seen as a liability and a threat to future power.