(CNN) - Former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a leading voice in the Tea Party movement, said Sunday he disagreed with a leading conservative Republican's assessment of how establishment politicians in the Republican Party should regard Tea Party candidates if they're elected to serve in Washington.
Former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, a strong voice for conservatives, told the Washington Post in July "as soon as they [Tea Party candidates] get here, we need to co-opt them."
Armey told CNN's Candy Crowley on "State of the Union" that he felt Lott used "a bad choice of words."
"You were talking about a group of people whose necks stiffen immediately upon hearing that word," Armey said. "These are independent-minded people, they really have no particular appreciation for the performance of either party in the past several years. They want to run for office in order to change that."
Lott said the GOP leadership will need to work with newly elected Republicans to shape the party's agenda.
"It's not a matter of trying to get them to change their position," Lott said. "They are going to bring enthusiasm and new ideas and pressures in Washington, and I think that's good. But I do think the leadership has got to learn very quickly to work with them and turn it into positive energy."
Armey said he felt a marriage of anti-establishment Tea Party candidates and establishment GOP leadership could survive.
"I was majority leader and I was never establishment," Armey said.