FreedomWorks' Russ Walker shows activists a map of the "tea party belt," states where the movement has had success.

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Washington CNN  — 

As it continues to ramp up its efforts for the 2012 election cycle, a national umbrella organization for the tea party movement readily admits its grassroots organizing strategy is borrowed from the left’s political playbook.

“Whether they win or lose a campaign, an election, a fight of some kind – did they come out stronger than they went in?” is how Brendan Steinhauser, FreedomWorks’ director of state and federal campaigns, described the grassroots approach utilized by liberals.

Matt Kibbe, FreedomWorks president and CEO, pointed to a strategy that was “very consistent with all of the left’s literature on community organizing.” He attributed a specific phrase that the tea party group has adopted – “winning by building and building by winning” – to the Sierra Club in the 1990s. “I stole it from them,” he said.

The strategy was a recurring theme at a recent gathering of roughly 100 conservative activists who came to Washington for a weekend of training hosted by FreedomWorks.

Tea party 2.0: Upgraded for 2012

The event opened up a window into the metamorphosis of the tea party movement – from mass protests in 2009 into an increasingly sophisticated and coordinated political movement focused on November’s elections and beyond. To that end, FreedomWorks shared its “triple dip” strategy of focusing on states that will be critical in winning the White House, increasing the Republican majority in the House and flipping control of the Senate into GOP hands.

Although the conservative grassroots movement has had some electoral successes, it is not without its critics.