FreedomWorks CEO slams Romney event: 'This is a photo op'
September 2nd, 2011
11:29 AM ET
9 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. Rudy NYC

    The Challenge:
    Demonstrate how the plans, words, and ideas of Huntsman, Romney, Ryan, Perry, or any other Republican is different from the policies we say under GWB.

    September 2, 2011 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  2. skarphace

    This election cycle will once again point out that the Republican Party actually is two parties at present: the true Republican Party and the Tea Party which is attempting a hostile takeover. If Republicans nominate a Teavangelist like Perry or Bachmann, then the takeover will be complete.

    Hopefully, though, they nominate somebody like Romney or Paul who can give moderates and Independents a choice in 2012. Yeah, I know. Good luck with that.

    September 2, 2011 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |

    'm no Romney fan but lets face it, he doesn't fit the Tea Bagger mold, he believes that people and dinosaurs did not roam the earth at the same time, the earth is older than 6000 years, the earth is not flat, the sun does not revolve around the earth, in short he believes in science. This group of morons in the Tea Party need to go back to school, obviously home schooling does not work.

    September 2, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    Romney will clean Obama's clock if he gets the nomination. Then again, so wouldn't Mickey Mouse given the latest NO jobs report.

    32 months after Obama takes office, 48 months of a Democrat controlled the House, followed by 8 months of Republican control and fiscal sanity, 56 months of a Democrat controlled Senate, and we are going NOWHERE. Yet with all of the control of the government the Democrats have had over the last 3-5 YEARS, they continue to blame a small minority in one part of the government. It is simple. They do this to deflect attention from the Democrats COMPLETE POLICY FAILURE.

    While the country was reeling from one of the worse recessions we've had, THEY FOCUSED FOR ONE YEAR ON HEALTHCARE, NOT THE ECONOMY!!! At a time when every ounce of energy was needed to triage businesses and the economy, they THROW GAS ON THE FIRE by screwing around with one sixth of our economy and causing major business angst about one of its major expenses. The Democrats have made it clear, evil businesses are the problem. The government, led by the Democrats, have created a VERY HOSTILE environment for businesses. And now they wonder, like the clueless dolts they are, where all the jobs are.

    End the Obama/Democrat war on business, capiltalism and our economy. Vote them OUT in 2012. It is the ONLY path back to employment.

    September 2, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  5. George

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

    Fortunately Romney has been correct on these issues, unlike these Teabag posers, that are getting rich off the poor saps that follow con artists like Kibbe. But these same people give a lot of their hard earned money to TV evangelists that "promise" miracles and prosperity, two things they have no influence over....
    Maybe I should start selling Tea Party Snake Oil, guaranteed to cure your soul of all sin after death...... just 3 payment of $33.33.....

    September 2, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  6. As GM goes, so goes the country...Unions/Democrats killed GM, now they are killing the country

    I don't care if Romney beleives in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and Peter Pan! If he can turn this country around, VOTE FOR HIM!!!

    September 2, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Rick McDaniel wrote:
    We have to take ACTION to cause manufacturers to bring their manufacturing back on shore, before we can improve jobs. Nothing less will work.
    I agree. That sounds like Stimulus you're talking about. Now how do you plan to take "ACTION" when you are busy cutting spending and finding new creative ways to reduce government revenue.

    Wait for the private sector? I thought we have already sent the job creators this same message for the past 30 years. I don't think the message has trickled down to them yet.

    September 2, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  8. jb1963

    They are fighting their own. LOL. They are nothing but a bunch to Homophobic, Racist anti American terrorist. They want a civil war in America.

    September 2, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  9. DumDeDumDem

    I like Bill Maher's solution to this "tea party" problem: Democrats need to create a far-left radical fringe group...and they should hold crazy stances like taxing at 100% to fund all of our government programs.

    The only way to fight insane is with more insanity.

    September 2, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  10. nagrom

    Big business NO JOBS less government Big business NO JOBS less government Big business NO JOBS less government Big business NO JOBS less government Does anyone else see a trend here besides me? TEA BAGGERS and REPUBLICANS united will wipe out all the middle and low class citizens and keep all the booty for themselves. KOCH BROTHERS and beyond... Real scary world we live in today. Real Scary. OBAMA grow some tomatoes and tell these suckers where to get off!!!

    September 2, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. CNN Tea Party!

    CNN where is the news about the Republicans who control the House hasn't produce one JOBS BILLS in over 230 days! The House control the purse strings and no jobs bill with 9.1% unemployment? This is nuts! Ever since the Republicans took control of state houses and congress the economy plunge! WTF! CNN!

    September 2, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  12. indydave

    I don't need to pay attention to any big media to know the Tea Party is really a number of separate factions, and collectively incoherent on most issues. They mostly SAY they're concerned about spending and jobs ONLY, but then as soon as one self-professed TP candidate says something about "let's leave social issues alone" or "it's up to the states whether to recognize same-sex marriage," IMMEDIATELY another self-professed TPer jumps all over them and asserts that the first one doesn't represent the REAL Tea Party.
    All this is straight from the mouths/keyboards of what passes for grass-roots TPers.
    To the extent that they have any influence in getting more conservative Republicans elected, I already know to not trust anything those candidates say when they say they want to focus on spending and job and leave social issues alone – because they ALWAYS flip-flop on that position and go straight for the social issues as soon as they get in office.
    I would actually LIKE to vote for fiscal conservatives, but the varieties of them who get endorsed by TP/Rep parties all have so many fatal flaws that I haven't found a single one that I prefer in the end over the also-mostly-crappy candidates the Dems or Libertarians offer up.

    September 2, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  13. BB

    I'm glad the tea partiers have realized Mitt just need a longer nose to become the best New-Jersey circus clown.!!

    September 2, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. Liz the First

    Hope the teabaggers take each other down. there is nothing 'grassroots' about them. they are the monstrous creation of the Koch brothers, billionaire polluting industrialists who hate government and figured out how to manipulate the vast supply of idiots in this country to do their bidding. they're nothing but fascist goon squads. the sooner they are religated to the dustbin of history, the sooner we can get this country on the road to recovery.

    September 2, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. John

    The Tea Party Is not GOOD FOR America. And Mitt Romney ,Rick Perry , Michele Bachmann, Saran Palin are NOT GOOD FOR AMERICA. All Of these are really the Tea Party,and the Tea party Is nothing but a bunch of CRAP.

    September 2, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  16. Errm

    Grassroots? Hardly.
    Journalists (that would be you, CNN) need to stop pandering to these people by calling them "grassroots"...and if you don't know who they really are, DO SOME DIGGING (which would be part of your job description. Investigative journalism?). Most of us know that they are associated with the Heritage Foundation, the John Birch Society, and the Koch Brothers.

    September 2, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. JEANNE

    The Tea Party would like the American people to beleive they are bigger than they really are. They are in fact, a small group of idiots with big mouths and nothing else.

    September 2, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  18. Fair is Fair

    Gotta love it when liberal bloggers got nothing besides praising each other's comments on the CNN ticker.

    Listen up – Obama is a 1-termer. Deal with it.

    September 2, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. indepinFL

    FreedomWorks needs to look at the most pragmatic and electable candidate that will listen and help with their issues. Romney is the best real-world option. He has applicable experience in both industry and politics. Perry is a pure politician and I believe it best to break out of that mindset. None of the other fringe candidates are electable on a nationwide basis.

    September 2, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  20. Ray E. Georgia

    I am glad people are speaking up about the 14.5 Trillion Dollar Debt, the severe lack of jobs, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security all going broke, 46 Million people on Food Stamps etc. If you are worried about someone taking your Welfare Check, look in the Mirror. That's who's taking it.So are you going to vote for jobs or food stamps? At this point it would be stupid to Re-Elect Obama.

    September 2, 2011 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  21. ted

    The mainline GOP leadership and party has abdicated responsibility for its message to the TeaBagger far right wing lunatics. So, repukelicans, get a grip. The GOP is, as a result, way out of touch with the majority of Americans, regardless of political leanings. All the GOP cares about is tax cuts for the rich, corporations and special interests. Any time the GOP opens its mouth about resolving our economic issues, they mention tax cuts. This is not a solution. You cannot 'tax cut' your way out of this economic mess created by the Bush administration.

    vote Obama/Biden 2012

    September 2, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Kibbe? Take one look at him (yes, yes, yes, it's a personal thing, just like teafartiers can't stand the sight of our president, proven many times over).
    And: " just standing up at a tea party rally is not the same thing as being right on the issues." Ah yes, and the teaparty and Kibbe are "right" and the rest of the country is wrong. A fine idea of democracy that is.

    September 2, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  23. Tyler Derden

    WE ARE DESTROYING OURSELVES. Our comments, mine included, show me that everyone is more interested in denigrating their opponent than proposing a constructive middle ground solution. Effective negotiation is the answer, and that includes refusing to negotiate against oneself. Our politicians are doing what they believe will get them re-elected, so we need to make sure they know where we stand.

    September 2, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    @Malory Archer: "that's an insult to Pee Wee Herman! You take that back young lady!"

    Oh, darn, Malory. Do I HAVE to?

    September 2, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  25. DB

    A "grass roots" organization with a CEO, ROTFLMAO. It's going to be entertaining to watch the Tea Party self destruct between now and the Election.

    September 2, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
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