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. markiejoe

    And, Kibbe forgot to add, Romney's a Mormon.

    September 2, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  2. basketcase

    Those sideburns are not working for him.

    September 2, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  3. Matt

    Love all these hateful anti-teabagger comments! From the party of "tolerance," right? And the tea party is "racist," right? Which is why one of the tea party candidates – Herman Cain – is black! Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

    September 2, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  4. Jeffrey

    It's time for Independents and Democrats to think hard about the candidates in the GOP party. If you don't want an extremist as POTUS in 2012, I highly recommend that you register as a Republican to have a voice in the primaries.

    This election is important. I'm not anti-Obama, but I'd rather not have a minority of extremists select a whacked-out candidate that might actually win the election. Help pick someone you might be satisfied with.

    September 2, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  5. Pthomas

    I have too many issue with the Tea Parties to list here. I did see Mr. Kibbe on Bill Maher and he seemed like a nice man but was unable to hold his own when in a debate with knowledgeable people. But my question is the how the super conservatives can place so much trust in Perry. Sure he has walked the Tea Party walk for the last five years or so and spent the decade prior to that as relatively conservative Republican – be he spent the 12 years prior as a democrat. It seems to me Mr. Perry is a man who puts his finger in the air and goes the way he feels the wind is blowing. I find it hard that a man changes his philosophical outlook mid0life and goes from supporting Al Gore for President to a ardent Tea Partier. That is a huge swing in beliefs-which makes me doubt the depth of his convictions.

    September 2, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  6. BeverlyNC

    FreedomWorks is an extremist group of Republican lunatiics – no one cares what they think about anything. Come on America – grow some common sense and toss these nutjobs out of office, toss ALL Republicans out of office for betraying you and I on EVERY issue and LYING non-stop about EVERY issue. Republicans don't giive a damn about the PEOPLE, about JOBS, about the DEFIICIT....all they care about is getting all the money they want for the CORPORATE BOSSES who abuse us as workers, who send our jobs overseas, who pay ZERO in taxes, who want no regulations on them so they can destroy our water, air, and land, who are destroying our economy and intentionally destroying the middle class.
    Republicans are NOT serving America or the PEOPLE they swore an oath to serve. They are arrogant rich white men who are racists, hate women having rghts and power, and are fake and untrustable. NO MORE. NO MORE REPUBLCANS FOR ANY OFFICE LOCAL, STATE or NATIONAL. The TRAITORS and the LUNATICS need to go so America can recover.

    September 2, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  7. Marie MD

    This is precious. The koch brothers' party is eating itself.
    @matt – cain is the michael steele of the teabaggers. He is there because it makes them look good not because they would ever vote for him. You always see the one or two token black person at their rallies.
    The teabaggers have shown that they ARE a bunch of racist bigots. If you don't get it you are one of them!

    September 2, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  8. steven harnack

    I'm just amazed that for over 2 hundred years nobody ever knew about "our founding fathers small government ideals" until the the country elected a black, Democratic President. As soon as that happened, even before inauguration, it was: Oh, didn't you know? We were intending to just close this whole thing down anyway so we won't be needing you after all.

    September 2, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. mk1

    As was said several times above, to label Freedom Works a grassroots organization considering the money and the people that are behind it is extremely disrespectful to grass and roots in particular. I think the media needs to label groups such as them for what they are, mouthpieces of the rich and powerful that have totally corrupted average Americans and American values.

    September 2, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. GaryOwen27

    Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of As the Stomac Turns.

    September 2, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  11. JPX

    What a bunch of ignorant, uneducated idiots. I would love to know the average educational level of a Tea Party supporter – high school dropout? I'm so embarassed for our country.

    September 2, 2011 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  12. Ned

    The Tea Party are a bunch of Libertarians and Religious Right Wingers masquerading as Republicans.

    At the end of the day, moderate Republicans that Ronald Reagan brought to the party will rule the day.

    September 2, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  13. Boisepoet

    CNN, PLEASE stop referring to FreedomWorks as a grassroots organization. Its' lineage is easily and directly traced back to David Koch. It is a very well funded operation and rife with Republican operatives. Honesty in reporting would demand that you refer to FW as the trojan horse of corporate interests that it truly is.

    September 2, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  14. Tex71

    The Tea Party is running on EXACTLY the same platform as the Nazis pre-1933. EXACTLY. I wonder if anyone has bothered to investigate links between the Koch brothers and the Nazis? Vielleicht haben sie etwas mit anderen, aeltern Fascisten zu tun, hmmm....

    September 2, 2011 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Hey Matt Kibbel bits – Romney may be on the wrong side of tea party issues but he's on the CORRECT side of the issues. You're a nut and me along with all of my republican friends are voting for anybody but a tear party person...even Obama!

    September 2, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  16. Dennis

    When are the reasonable, intelligent and moderate candidates going to start campaigning AGAINST the Tea Party dogma? I'm a Democrat, but I would honestly consider voting for a Republican candidate who spoke out against the Tea Party and what it stands for.

    September 2, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  17. george S

    Bottom line:
    Election 2012 is Tea Party versus Democrats.....The GOP is dead

    September 2, 2011 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  18. Shannon

    these crazy ignorant people care nothing about this country, it's all about power, and who can get the most. What kind of person are you, if you support these people......scum would be my answer.

    September 2, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  19. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on US!

    There is NOTHING "grassroots" about "FreedomWorks", which is funded by extreme rightwing corporate interests. It's a cult, not a grassroots political movement.

    September 2, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  20. Jake Wheeler

    Just looking at some of the far-left extremists posting here shows why this country needs the Tea Party more than ever. The Democrats under Obama have become Stalin's useful idiots. The centrist policies of Bill Clinton have been replaced with International Socialist policies worthy of the Warsaw Pact. The far-left under Pelosi, Reed and Napolitano are a danger to the Republic and every patriot should be prepared to defend their country from these Communist traitors.

    September 2, 2011 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  21. Butt

    so offended that CNN would call FreedomWorks a grassroots organization. I have a theory that CNN fired a bunch of editors and all sorts of other positions that contribute to the quality of an article in order to cut costs and increase CNN.com's price per click. The ones that remained were the best corporate sycophants regardless of how good at their job they actually were. Hence, FreedomWorks described as 'grassroots' when the lid has been lifted off that can for a long time, and all the typos and mistakes in their articles in general. It's no higher quality than some blog and it doesn't look any better. The advertisements are outrageous as well, huge and in your face every time you come to the site.

    September 2, 2011 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  22. CoJo

    I certainly hope people don't have a short memory how we got where we are. Due to Goldman Sachs, Lehamn and all the other investment banks, they took us all out to the cleaners. Because of them and other banks the housing industry went out the window. We were losing 700,000 jobs A MONTH at that time. We are still trying to dig ourselves out. Granted, nothing seems to have currently worked, but the republlicans are the one who let all that happen on THIER watch. And yu want them back to do it again? Oh wait I guess people really do have a short memory.

    September 2, 2011 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  23. Mike kerns

    All we need is the pied piper to lead these freedom loving people to the sea! Problem solved.

    September 2, 2011 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  24. James

    The tea party is a group of anti government no taxation right wing bigot nutcakes whose membership includes the NRA, KKK , American Nazi Party to name a few. They are the same type of nutcakes that divided the nation in the mid 1800;s leading to the civil war. They need to be disbanded and the leaders jailed.

    September 2, 2011 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  25. Chuck

    "On health care, on regulation of carbon, on Wall Street bailouts ... the key issues that tea partiers care about"

    So, that's what T-Baggers care about:

    1. they oppose affordable health care for average Americans,
    2. they want hydrocarbon-polluted air, water and land, and
    3. they oppose the GOP TARP bailouts by Bush-Paulson.

    Not exactly high principles, but I agree with the 3rd. T-Bags don't look much different than other Republicans. They all want to shift the country's wealth from the poor and middle to the rich, they don't want the rich or corporations to pay taxes, and they want business-controlled government (facism).

    September 2, 2011 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
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