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. Jack

    The best thing that could happen to this country, is let these extremist shed each other apart, because they not conservatives in my book.

    I consider myself one.

    September 2, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  2. pete

    typical tea bagger attitude. "it's our way or the highway. we're the only ones who understand the constitution. we're the only patriots and real americans." oh, i almost forgot, "we need to get that black guy outa there at all cost."

    September 2, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. PittUSMC

    Perry endorsed Hillarycare. Enjoy you flip flopping puppet. Best description I have heard "Obama in a Reagan suit"!

    September 2, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  4. thomas

    When will FreedomWorks ask Mitt , why none of his five sons did any military service ?

    September 2, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  5. Ron , West Coast

    Like I said when the teabaggers first started and began to make noise , I said back then , ( when the media and the " talking heads " tried to convince the public ) that the teabagger movement would be detrimental to the democrats , but , that in actually , they would divide the republican party .... which they have .

    September 2, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  6. FedUpRepublican

    The Tea Party is its own worst enemy. Even for a grassroots organization it’s extremely fractured. They have the worst possible talking heads and each group seems to always be at odds with the next in pushing their own individual agendas and candidates. Though I believe it may have started out with good intentions, it’s since been co-opted by special interest groups, christian fundamentalists, duplicitous politicians and con artists. I have absolutely no idea what they stand for anymore, and furthermore, I no longer care. I’ve been a Republican for 25+ years, but I definitely won’t be voting for any Tea Party endorsed candidates in 2012, and I know I’m far from being alone in that sentiment.

    September 2, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  7. Gregg

    The failure of the of our culture and our society in the USA is coming at us far faster than we realize.
    Our 200+ years as a country is an ant fart when talking bout successful cultures and societies.

    September 2, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  8. Lcrouse

    The Republican/Tea Party would have the citizens of this great nation believe they can run the government better than any other political party, yet they cannot run their own party. The GOP has become the poster child of obstructionism. They are so obsessed with obstruction they are now obstructing their own party candidates, because they don't have the proper right wing mentality.

    John McCain pushed the GOP self-destruct button when he picked Palin to run, and the party continuous to splinter into its own enemy.

    September 2, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  9. witchiepoo

    I think the only reason this caveman Kibbe does not have a unibrow is because the Koch's bought him a trimmer...

    September 2, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  10. NC

    Who cares, mainstream intelligent Americans will not vote for anyne the tea-publcans endorse. The tea-publicans are destroying our country and want us to become a third world country. Tea-publicans you have awakened a sleeping giant and will not win in 2012.

    September 2, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  11. ja

    this entire teaparty is a pig with lipstick, where were you when we emabark upon blowing a budget surplus, and embarking upon three wars, one on the premiser of lies, well stick your heads back in the sand

    September 2, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  12. ThinkAgain

    "AstroTurf complaining about authenticity. That's rich."

    I can't agree more. Ever wonder how all these "regular folks" have been able to afford running around these last two years in luxury touring buses than appeared exactly when they appeared? The teabaggers are the Koch brothers invention, fully funded by them and their monied cronies who are desperate to maintain their stranglehold on our country.

    And they picked the right group to be their foot soldiers: A bunch of disgruntled, intellectually incurious, avoiders of responsibility white folks who, historically, have been easy to manipulate into voting against their own self-interest.

    Pretty darn pathetic!

    September 2, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. Penobscot

    If Romney isn't good with the Tea Party, then he's got my vote.

    September 2, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. vit

    Vet in Texas wrote "Bachmann is a government handout taker and immature sociopath."

    I think that you mean that she's only 50% electable by their standards, given that she took government handouts.

    September 2, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. Stacey

    LOL! The KKK is in control of the U.S. Congress! They're not sporting their pointy, hooded bedsheets anymore. They wear expensive suits these days. They're now calling themselves the "Tea Party." Their aim is to set America back 70 years, coddle and support the very wealthy and take away any opportunityfrom the poor and middle class all in the name of cutting spending. They're the same ole Birch Society folks who were vocal in the 1960's. They are fooling no one about who they really are and what they really want to do to this country.

    September 2, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain

    I'm married to an independent and right now, there's no way he'll ever vote Republican because of their recklessness over the debt ceiling and their irresponsible, foolish insistence on not raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

    Anyone with a working brain is thinking the same thing .... that said, I hope the teabaggers continue all their petty infighting and continue to fracture the Republican party.

    September 2, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    me thinks that Romney's stance of "corporations are people too" isn't going to go over very well here. Perhaps before he goes to court the Tea party he should stop at one of his million dollar homes and rethink how he is going to approach this. He has plenty of time to do this of course since he's unemployed at the moment.

    September 2, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  18. SecedingfromTexas

    Apparently "Freedom (only) Works" if you belong to the Tea Party. The rest of us can jump off a bridge I guesss.
    Until they need our vote, which they will never get.

    September 2, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  19. Joe

    Romney's not good with the tea party? That's the best thing I've heard about him so far.

    September 2, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  20. CBR

    How interesting that the TEA Party has such rules about who can and who cannot be part of their Party! Those of us who are a little older recognize the implications of any group which does not open its "doors" to all. Hopefully the Republicans will recognize what is happening and move away from the TEA Party itself. It is one thing to recognize what is inherently good in what a group is saying or doing, it is another to allow the group to take over so completely that the very basic ideas that formed the original group are wiped out. This will no longer be the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower or even Reagan. Is this what we want?

    September 2, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  21. Tulsa

    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.

    -----------------
    Actually, that sounds like President Obama.

    September 2, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. CoJo

    it might be an interesting experiment to have say the top 5 republican ideas implemented say by end of Sept. And if the unemployment does NOT get down to at least 8.1% by end of the election, then ALL republicans in congress unconditionally resign (including the tea drinkers). If their plans can't be implemented by end of Sept, then they obviously don't have enough details to even suggest ideas and therefore should resign. Are the republicans game to bet THEIR jobs on their ideas?

    September 2, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  23. Eric

    Ron Paul is a moderate???

    September 2, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  24. Sam I Am

    The tea party has done nothing but cause problems. They have gotten just enough people in Cogress so they can throw tantrums and act like unruly children. No solutions, just whining. If a tea party candidate is put up by the Republican party for presidential candidate, it will guarantee Obama's re-election. No one in their right mind would vote for the tea party as it stands today. The likes of Bachman, Palin and Perry are the best you can do? Really? That's a pretty sad state of affairs.

    September 2, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  25. Chris

    The "Tea Party" is not a political party, but extreme right wing reactionaries of the Republican Party. They are a minority in the Republican Party and are holding it hostage to their extremes view points. I am waiting for a canadate, with a spine, to call them out. If not, I'll guess I will vote for the other party.

    September 2, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
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