FreedomWorks CEO slams Romney event: 'This is a photo op'
September 2nd, 2011
11:29 AM ET
3 years ago

FreedomWorks CEO slams Romney event: 'This is a photo op'

(CNN) – The leader of a large grassroots organization instrumental to the tea party movement isn't happy with Mitt Romney, and he's not afraid to show it.

Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks, was adamant that the former Massachusetts governor is "not good with the men and women of the tea party movement" Friday during an interview on CNN.

Objecting to Romney's appearance on the Tea Party Express national bus tour Sunday in New Hampshire, Kibbe voiced his frustration.

"He's been standoffish I think up until now and suddenly he's in trouble in the polls so he wants to create this perception. But this is not a dispute about Mitt Romney, it's a dispute about his record," he insisted.

Earlier this week, Romney reversed course and decided to attend a Monday forum in South Carolina being held by Sen. Jim DeMint instead of a tea party bus tour event in New Hampshire. Instead, he elected to attend an earlier event in the state on the bus tour schedule Sunday.

FreedomWorks promptly pulled their sponsorship of the Tea Party Express tour and set the stage for a protest.

But Kibbe sought to remove any confusion about his group's intention. "There's a misperception about tea parties. We're not disruptive," he said. "But we are going to set the record straight."

"We would love to hear [Romney] take a stand on some of these issues, but we want to make sure that people know that just standing up at a tea party rally is not the same thing as being right on the issues."

Kibbe's biggest bone of contention is Romney's record.

"On health care, on regulation of carbon, on Wall Street bailouts–he's been wrong on the key issues that tea partiers care about," he said.

"We've been in this debate for quite some time now listening to Gov. Romney, hoping to hear him step away from his support for government-run health care, hoping to hear where he's going to be on some of our key issues, he hasn't been there yet."

The group sponsoring Romney's appearance communicated no qualms about the second-time presidential candidate's upcoming remarks and billed the event as part of a larger forum for all presidential candidates.

A statement released by the Tea Party Express described the tour as an open opportunity for presidential candidates who want to speak to the tea party–and balked at the notion that tea partiers should be told "who they can and can't listen to."

Kibbe begged to differ.

'"I don't think that's what's going on here," he said. I think this is a photo op."

"What we're looking for is substance and if we hear that from Gov. Romney we'll give him credit where credit is due."

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soundoff (156 Responses)
  1. Sorensen

    Nobody with any brains is good with the tea-party, you empty headed lunatic!!!

    September 2, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  2. vet in texas

    Here is what makes this so hilarious, Romney is a mandater (Romneycare), so he can't be elected in based on their standards, Perry is a mandater and budget failure (HPV vaccine and our 27billion hole), so he can't be elected based on their standards, and Bachmann is a government handout taker and immature sociopath, so she can't be elected based on their standards. Everyone else is a definite no go so that leaves Sarah, the definitely don't want her to run so who do they need to get behind?

    September 2, 2011 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  3. Laverne

    ............not just the Tea Party, but Romney is not good for America period!

    September 2, 2011 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  4. Jeff in Virginia

    AstroTurf complaining about authenticity. That's rich.

    September 2, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  5. taylor

    big whoop whoop, who gives a flip what this extremist likes or dont like!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 2, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  6. conoclast

    Labeling FreedomWorks a 'grassroots' organization is like calling NASCAR a participator sport: both phenomena are contrived from the top down - and both appeal to the same demographic. Go figure, hmm?

    September 2, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. carly

    Have to love those sideburns. Freedworks=extremists, anti-middle class, corporate sponsored, anti-American in everyway expect for the rich and ultra-conservatives.

    September 2, 2011 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    Kind of has the look of Pee Wee Herman. If not for the billionaire brothers backing, he would in all probability be just as inconsequential as Pee Wee is too.

    September 2, 2011 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  9. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    so the right wing extremist don't like the flip/flopper because he's NOT conservative enough? ROTFLMAO!!! Thing with Romney though is just give him time and he'll change if that is what itakes to get him elected. Be patient FreedomWorks clan, if he thinks he needs you to win he'll adapt to your polices.

    September 2, 2011 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    Hahahaha...photo op...wow...even when criticizing their own, they resort to trite, mindless, substanceles stock talking points.

    ""What we're looking for is substance and if we hear that from Gov. Romney we'll give him credit where credit is due.""

    Translation: "What we're looking for is someone who echoes back precisely what we want to hear, and if we hear that from Gov. Romney we'll give him a pat on the back and then still screw him for being a Mormon."

    September 2, 2011 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  11. Malory Archer

    Lynda/Minnesota – that's an insult to Pee Wee Herman! You take that back young lady!

    September 2, 2011 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  12. Julie

    This is exactly how countries turn into dictatorships – no debate – no ideas welcome other than ours – my way or the highway even if it takes us down as a country.

    September 2, 2011 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  13. just jenn

    The leader of a large grassroots organization instrumental to the tea party movement isn't happy with Mitt Romney, and he's not afraid to show it.

    "Grassroots???" They are an arm of Americans for Prosperity which is owned and operated by the Koch brothers and Kibbe himself has worked for numerous Republican administrations, their Vice President is Dick Armey, a former House Representative who has also worked in numerous administrations. Grassroots is for the people by the people, Kibbe and company are for the rich by the rich

    September 2, 2011 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. FactCheck

    The "grassroots leader" of the Tea Party? Aren't those the Koch brothers?

    September 2, 2011 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  15. Dave T

    Freedomworks is hardly a grassroots organization, Like the Tea Party they represent the extreme right of the GOP, no one who caters to the extreme right will likely ever win in a general election. I know a few life long republicans who didn't vote for John McCain after he picked Sarah Palin

    September 2, 2011 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  16. FactCheck

    Everyone else is a definite no go so that leaves Sarah, the definitely don't want her to run so who do they need to get behind?
    -----

    How about a moderate/center right candidate who is willing to work across the aisle. Oh yeah, I forgot.. those candidates are RINOS.

    September 2, 2011 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Breaking News: The Flat Earth Society has rejected Gov. Romney's credentials.

    ""We would love to hear [Romney] take a stand on some of these issues, but we want to make sure that people know that just standing up at a tea party rally is not the same thing as being right on the issues."

    Kibbe's biggest bone of contention is Romney's record."

    Gov. Romney is on record as having stated that science is correct, and the Earth is indeed round.

    September 2, 2011 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. Jerry

    So if this guy thinks Romney's appearance is simply gonna be a photo op, I'm wondering what he thought about Rick Perry's "JesusPalooza" event a few weeks ago in Tejas. Go ahead Mr. Kibbe, sabotage Romney so your Non-Compromising (even at the total cost of our economy) Tea Party sympathizers can vote for the ultimate Political Pandering Profit who suffers from a nasty case of Mad Cowboy disease – Rick Perry. You're definitely going to ruin any chance for Independents like me to vote Republican!

    September 2, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Instant Replay: courtesy of Jerry
    "...the ultimate Political Pandering Profiteer who suffers from a nasty case of Mad Cowboy disease – Rick Perry."
    -------------
    ROLFMAO. "Mad Cowboy Disease." Woo Hoo. That's good. Thanks, Jerry. I needed that one.

    September 2, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  20. John in Brooklyn

    A candidate the Tea Party fanatics hate? Maybe there's hope for the Republican Party after all!!!!

    September 2, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  21. MB Seattle

    This is as good as an endorsement for Romeny for the independents and moderate repblicans and democratic swing voters. The Tea Party and Tea Party canidates are DOA in 2012. They have served the purpose of special interst groups well but have alienated voters.

    September 2, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. Roger

    You're either with us or against us! That is the Tea Party's stance. They pander to the rich and the uninformed!

    September 2, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. bb

    Well, Romney has not offered a darn thing yet. All we have gotten from him in this campaign and the last one WERE photo ops. FreedomWorks, is nothing but a corporate shill parading as a 'patriotic' (read: hollow buzz word) organization. They are not representing you – American citizens, they all for big business at YOUR expense.

    September 2, 2011 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Do you think they're worried that Gov. Romney didn't get the memo?

    "We don't really want to create jobs while Democrats control the White House. We don't even want ot remind people about it. So, please stop talking about job creation and just tell people Obama has destroyed jobs. That way the will not realize what we are actually up to. We have to keep the people's eye on Obama while we fill their ears with doom, gloom and negativity. Okay, Mitch?"

    Romney's not to sharp on the draw on the nuances of human interaction.

    September 2, 2011 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  25. Nash

    Romney campaign beware Freedomworks is trying to make the Gov flop on some issues. Wait a minute isn't he just flipping right now by embracing the tea party because his poll numbers are in the hole! The Gov is so indecisive that as a President his head will spin in huge circles. I could be wrong, but Gov Romney acts like the weather- he changes his positions all the time. So much for standing for solid principles!

    September 2, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
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