[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/15/art.armey.getty.jpg caption="Former Majority Leader Dick Armey said Thursday that the Tea Party movement is a force to be reckoned with."]Washington (CNN) - Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey said Thursday that the Tea Party movement won't be fading away any time soon.
"I think they're already a force to be reckoned with," Armey said in an interview with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "They have maintained a very consolidated commitment to the big issues of our time."
But the FreedomWorks chairman warned there would be consequences for conservatives if third-party Tea Party candidates siphon votes away from Republicans in 2010.
"In New Jersey, if you take a look at the third party candidate in that race, that candidate had polling numbers going into the election week, that had they met on election day, would have assured a re-election of the incumbent liberal Democrat," he said.
Asked to reflect on 1994, when he helped usher in an era of Republican majorities in the House, Armey said GOP successes were owed in large part to the "Contract for America" and a feeling of unease with the Clinton administration.
And he warned that the same feelings are on the rise again.
"It was a year of massive anxiety on the part of the voters at large. And they were looking at the Clinton administration saying, 'Oh, my goodness. What are they going to do to my country?' That level of anxiety today while the same is larger than it was with the Clinton presidency," he said.
Armey added that House Minority Leader John Boehner and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor are the right leadership team to guide Republicans heading into November.
"This is not the leadership team that broke your heart three years ago," Armey said. "Those folks are gone. So you need to probably be a little more generous in giving these guys a chance to - to demonstrate where they are."