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. Lynda/Minnesota

    @RudyNYC: "I enjoy the shows, too. There's far more excitement on First Street than Pennsylvania Avenue."

    Definitely NOT my father's Republican Party, that's for sure. BTW, good luck getting GOPers to take you up on your challenge.


    September 2, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. pat Pootie

    Take one look at Kibbe, ... duh. (yes, it's a personal dislike, just like teafartiers have a personal dislike of our president).

    And then: " just standing up at a tea party rally is not the same thing as being right on the issues." Oh, Kibbe and his little clique are 'right' and everybody else is wrong? A fine display of an understanding of the democratic process! I'd call it "UnAmerican" if the word hadn't been so misused. On second thought, the teaparty patriots probably Would vote for Joe McCarthy... wanna bet?

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

    @Jerry: JesusPalooza and Mad Cowboy disease together in one comment. Too funny. Thanks for the laughs. Great way to start the holiday weekend.

    September 2, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  4. txnan6

    CNN needs to investigate and get better info. Freedom Works is not a grassroots organization. They were/are funded by the Koch brothers (hardly grassroots and certainly biased interest). Please be more diligent in your information.

    September 2, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  5. Larry M

    I really wish that a GOP candidate would tell the Tea Party to just stick it.

    September 2, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  6. AntiFringe

    "There's a misperception about tea parties. We're not disruptive," he said, "We're just clueless."

    Contact someone in Iowa........they know how to do it.

    September 2, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  7. Mike

    Who cares what the Tea Party wants? Most Americans despise them. If however, if a Tea Party hopeful gets the Republican nomination, it's FOUR MORE YEARS FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA! I can live with that.

    September 2, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  8. Dreamer96

    Someone spends to much time watching reruns of Bonaza, Happy Days, and the black and white version of Dragnet...Stuck in the 50's a flashback social virus..

    September 2, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. Eric

    Of course it's a photo op, he's running for President. Duh!

    He has every bit of right to call himself a tea party rally, just like the Koch brothers. The GOP has double down on crazy so many times that the wing nuts think that they own the party. Oh, yea, they do.

    September 2, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. BingoBangoBongo

    How minorities were executed under Romney's watch as governor? There's no way it compares with Perry's record, so Romney will never register with the so-called Tea Party.

    September 2, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. diridi

    Tea Party thugs and GOP idiots are for rich, America, you watch out these idiots. I have guts to say it out-loud, and clearly. You should have also guts not to vote to these bastards. Good luck. These idiots are for "RICH, CORPORATE, OIL" thugs. Period. Save America, God bless....

    September 2, 2011 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. Rosslaw

    This "grassroots" organization couldn't schedule a demonstration with enough people to fill a phone booth and when consider the percentage of morbidly obese tea mad hatters (98.8%), you'd think that they would have an edge in that category.

    September 2, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  13. David

    Matt Kibbe is a terrorist and should be charged with Treason!

    September 2, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. Tony Bologna

    Why no coverage on Gary Johnson?

    September 2, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. Recovering Republican

    Terrorist are always fighting among one another. The Tea Party – GOP infighting is no different than the Al Quaeda – Hamas infighting. It did not take long for the Tea Party to show its true colors, which happen to be shades of green$$$, instead of the Red, White, and Blue they wear on their sleeve.

    September 2, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. AC

    Freedom Works for those billionaire backers you IDIOT! I love it, Republican money vs. Bigger Republican Money! There is nothing grassroots about your organziation, when it backed by Billionaries!

    September 2, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Americans need jobs, not a tea party.

    September 2, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  18. The "New" Tea Party . . .

    Tex-ed Enough Already!!!!

    September 2, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  19. notogop

    I hope John McCain realizes what a Pandora's Box he opened when he gave Sarah Palin national recognition and brought the Teabaggers out of the shadowy depths where they once lurked. These people, who for the most part seem to have neither intelligence nor money, will either destroy the republican party to morph it into something unrecognizable, relative to what the party once was.

    September 2, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  20. John D

    Freedom works has zero credibilty. Who are they to criticize anyone!

    September 2, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  21. David in Houston

    Tea Party = KOCH Lapdogs...plain & simple.

    September 2, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  22. The Other Michael in Houston

    We all know the Tea Party members are so called Militia's coming out of hiding in the mountain and woods, tryingto participate in the process of politics. We know who you are and it does not matter who you back for the Rebuplican nomination, just the fact that the tea party is supporting a candidate will cause him/her to lose. Hey since you are so good as twisitng things and brainwashing people (well the idiot portion of American Society) why don't you secretly put your guy up to represent the Republicans and then publicly put all your support behind President Obama, then the rest America will vote for the Republican because we, the American People would not vote for someone you are supporting, President Obama loses the election and your guy get's in. Hey Tea Party, dont ever say The Other Michael in Houston never tried to help you.

    September 2, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. chuck

    Another fruitcake-I am thrilled to see on all news (except Fox) that Palins political career is over (actually she has been done since she bailed as Alaska gov.). Give her a show on TLC to talk about guns or moose or something. Politics is not her gig-too dumb.

    September 2, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. logic in LA

    This man is as naive as he is misinformed. All politicians at their events are there for photo ops.
    The one that actually believe they group has any real value, doesn't stand a chance to win the nomination

    September 2, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. A Kickin' Donkey

    Willard Mitt Romney is as stiff and animated as Al Gore.

    Of course the Tea-Party types are not going to like a button-down, Brooks-Brothers suit wearing Republican. My God he was elected to 1-term as Governor of Massachussetts; home of that bastion of LIBERALISM – Harvard.

    And let's not forget his individual manadate in Romneycare. Federal mandate, state mandate, it don't matter all them thar Tea-Partiers are agin it!

    September 2, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
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