Thomas R. Eddlem at The New American* has some suggested questions to help you distinguish between the candidates who claim "Tea Party values" and those who really do. The remainder of this article is a direct quotation from Mr. Eddlem's, except for the comments in brackets, which are mine.
1. When should the federal budget be balanced? (If they have a deadline any time later than the next two-year election cycle — the term for which representatives are currently seeking election — suggest that the candidates should suspend their current campaign and run for office later when they’d fight for a balanced budget. They’re as phony as a $3 bill.)
2. How would you balance the federal budget? Other than cutting “waste” and “pork,” something even liberals claim they want to do, what programs costing more than $1 billion per year would you vote to eliminate entirely in order to balance the budget? (This is an especially relevant question if the candidate says he or she is for tax cuts, as many Republicans do. If a candidate cannot name a single program of $1 billion or more he’d cut out entirely — such as foreign aid — in the face of an annual deficit of $1,400 billion, he is lying when he says he wants a balanced budget or that he wants to reduce the size of government.)
3. Would you balance the budget based on the current level of federal revenue — or reduce taxes while also cutting spending? Congressman Ron Paul says he would eliminate the federal income tax and replace it with nothing. Do you think this could be done, and if so, how?...
4. Would you vote to abolish the Federal Reserve and replace it with a gold standard?
5. Do you believe the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade abortion decision, which took the issue of abortion out of the hands of states, was a direct assault on the Constitution’s 10th Amendment? [Interesting take on that issue, don't you think?]
6. Would you pull U.S. military forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan? [Don't take any waffling on this issue. You need to know whether a candidate's "conservatism" is an attempt to hide a pro-war, any war stance].
7. Would you also pull U.S. military forces out of South Korea and Germany, and in general support a non-interventionist, mind-our-own-business foreign policy?
8. Would you end all foreign aid, including aid to Israel, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iraq?
9. Would you insist that the NSA and the rest of the federal government abolish all warrantless wiretapping and honor the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that all searches have a warrant and probable cause? Would you seek to get the executive branch to punish violators with prison sentences?
10. Would you insist that the federal government not engage in torture, which violates the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and vote for a law banning waterboarding and extraordinary rendition? Would you insist that the Fifth Amendment be vindicated and the right to trial by jury be upheld, even for terrorism suspects?
* Yes, I know that The New American is published by the John Birch Society, but that affiliation doesn't affect the quality of the questions.