FreedomWorks CEO slams Romney event: 'This is a photo op'
September 2nd, 2011
11:29 AM ET
8 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. Tony in Maine

    Hmmmm – here's the first real reason to back Romney.

    September 2, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  2. Aaron

    I'm curious how much money these teabagger "leaders" are making off of selling their nonsense. I suspect that many were in minimum wage jobs until they got the calling of the Koch brothers' propaganda machine.

    September 2, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  3. LibDeadheadHusker

    I don't know why he would want a photo op with a bunch in inbreds.

    September 2, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  4. Laurie

    The first good reason I've heard to support Romney – that he is not in good with the tea party.

    September 2, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. Positive

    Only Tea Party members don't realize how much the vast majority is done with them after the economy destroying debacle they brought us this year.

    September 2, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  6. al in memphis

    Hey Aaron– you right about that because if you look at all the people out front pushing political mayhem, you will see major $$$. What was Palin making before she went rogue, how about Limbaugh whose career didn't take off until he started his political critical comedy routine, Glenn Beck, etc.
    These people know that out in left field ideas get attention, and attention get $$$$

    Meanwhile, the fabric of the country crumbles or is sold off.

    September 2, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:
    Gotta love it when liberal bloggers got nothing besides praising each other's comments on the CNN ticker.
    Why reply to ideologues like "Democrat (you know the rest)"? I give you credit for being one of the few conservative voices around here who has not shown a belief that the Earth is flat.

    September 2, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  8. ObamaCares

    Suddenly all the tea-tards have a "Jobs Plan," it's just like the one they had in 2010, non-existent.

    September 2, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  9. ART

    So the various clans of the tea party are at odds with each other. Who will be the grand wizard no one knows.

    September 2, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "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"

    HERE'S a big fat clue: THE SOLUTION ISN'T AUTOMATICALLY IN THE "MIDDLE." There are sometimes right answers and wrong answers. The trickle-down daydream economic theories the GOP and Teaclowns continue to use to pollute the political discourse ARE LIES. The past 30+ years has seen an ever-accelerating redistribution of the nation's wealth to a tiny tiny percentage of the population AND THE GOP KEEPS ARGUING FOR THE POLICIES THAT ARE CAUSING IT TO HAPPEN. THE CLASS WAR IS BEING WAGED BY THE WEALTHY AND CORPOPRATIONS UPON THE MIDDLE-CLASS AND THEY RANT AND RAVE THAT IT'S "CLASS WARFARE" WHENEVER WE TRY TO FIGHT BACK MERELY There's not one society in the history of the earth that didn't eventually collapse completely and suffer bloody revolt as a result of an extended period of class warfare and wealth redistribution to an elitist plutocratic set of overlords. NOT ONE. You cannot...CANNOT...claim to love this country if you think the economic policies that have made the rich richer while the middle-class shrank and the poor got poorer and the vast majority of us were drowned in consumer debt we needed just to get by. You know why? Because this country will cease to exist in a red bloody heartbeat if it's allowed to continue for much longer. Ask Robespierre.

    This isn't debateable. It's math. The numbers don't lie. This isn't a matter where you can automatically aim at whatever you perceive as the "middle ground" as though comrpomise and tit-for-tat is automatically where the answers and solutions lie. We CANNOT allow the wealth in this nation to continue being redistributed to the extremely wealth and corporations. We CANNOT allow the power and influence over our political and governmental processes and institutions to continue being redistributed to the extremely wealthy and corporations. We CANNOT allow economic policies and ideology that are PROVEN BY THEIR HISTORICAL EFFECT to favor the extremely wealthy and corporations over the middle-class, the poor adn the human beings that make up this nation. If we do, there won't be a nation. Perhaps that's what the GOP/Teatrolls/conservatives actually want anyway, what with their constant atlk about giving all governmental functions over to the states. THAT'S WHERE WE STARTED AND IT DIDN'T WORK! THAT'S WHY THE CONSTITUTION EXISTS IN THE FIRST PLACE! You want to save the nation? Preserve the middle-class at the expense of the rich and corporations if need be...necessity will be the mother invention and innovation to fix that...otherwise, necessity will be the mother of revolution.

    September 2, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  11. Evil Hollywood Liberal

    Why the surprise? Tea Baggers, meet "being co-opted".

    That hick sure has, uh, 'interesting' sideburns, tho.......

    September 2, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  12. conrad

    The Tea Party is an obnoxious gang of bullies – enforcing their party platform ideals in a very fascist manner. Scary group ... I have nothing against fiscal conservativism, but this bunch of radicals needs to go away. If they don't want government maybe there is an island somewhere where they can play out their "Lord of the Flies" political fantasies.

    September 2, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  13. hypatia

    YES! PLEASE KEEP GNAWING ON EACH OTHER! This is better than any reality show.

    September 2, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  14. sheppard

    @Fair is Fair
    Gotta love it when the right/wrong wing has nothing better to do than come on a thread to post a comment about what other folks are doing by posting on a thread. LOL You definitely look and sound like a fool...

    September 2, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    You want to knwo what these people really believe? Here's a taste:

    "It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country - which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote...Encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn't about helping the poor. It's about helping the poor to help themselves to others' money. It's about raw so-called social justice. It's about moving America ever farther away from the small-government ideals of the Founding Fathers."
    -Matthew Vedum, article on American Thinker (today)

    That's right. THe even goes as far as to say that giving the poor the right to vote is like "handing out burglary tools to criminals." THEY HATE YOU...EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU WHO ISN'T (a) WEALTHY OR (b) VOTING FOR THEM SO THEY CAN MAKE THE WEALTHY WEALTHIER AT YOUR EXPENSE. They'll be arguing for a return to debtors prisons and legalize forms of literally entering into indentured servitude next. They are flipping the hell out because the demographic shifts in this country have put their ability to hold onto power in serious, likely inevitably mortal jeapordy and they are focusing almost entirely on destroying all institutions that create that threat: destruction of unions and labor rights, minority and poor voters, reform of immigration laws in a sane manner, the existence of a middle-class with enough financial wherewithall to generate campaign donations that can compete in the aggregate with corporations, evisceration of the societal safety net programs, obliteration of our education systems...ALL OF IT...THEY ARE FRANTIC TO DESTROY IT BECAUSE IT ALL POSES A THREAT TO THEIR ABILITY TO REIN OVER US AS THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. If you don't get this and cannot connect these very simple dots, you're either one of them or their useful tool.

    September 2, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  16. Independent Texan

    My trust of FreedomWorks is " O", zero, nada. These poor smucks are funded by a bunch of ultra-rich, ultra-conservatives interested ONLY in preserving THEIR fortunes. To HELL with the "middle class"-- The real smart ones have already packed their offshore bank accounts.

    September 2, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. james Miller

    Grassroots---– my ass !!!!!! What a bunch of sheep most voters are !?!?!?

    September 2, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  18. Greg

    I am a tea partier, and I am firmly against Rick Perry. Tea partiers are primarily for smaller goverment, and Perry has greatly expanded government in Texas. His state has created 75,000 jobs the past three years. 115,000 new government jobs and a loss of 40,000 private sector jobs. Now they have the highest state debt per capita in the country – even higher than California. Growing government in a way it can't afford – that's Texas and Rick Perry.

    September 2, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. Gene from Georgia

    Two kinds of Republicans: multi-millionaires (Romney) and suckers (those who think the Teaparty is a "grassroots" movement.) Funny now that the suckers are turning on their masters.

    September 2, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  20. Nothing new here

    I consider myself to be a fiscal conservative – but the Tea Party movement does Not speak for me!!
    The Tea Party wants a "perfect candidate". Not going to happen.
    What the country needs are some sane, sensible leaders. I believe moderation is the key, now we just need to start electing the right people that will represent us effectively.

    September 2, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. T'sah from Virginia

    @jSniffit – who wrote @ September 2, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |

    Dang – where do you live? Have you ever thought about coming to VA and running in our district to REPLACE Can'tor???????? You hit everything right on POINT in this blog!! It's not difficult to understand. And I do agree,

    "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"

    I would love to see EVERYONE here that blogs all day and every day to offer more suggestions with their criticism and MAYBE – just MAYBE, some of these so-called lawmakers will hear it!!!

    I'm still for Obama/Biden 2012 because I truly believe his administration is on the right track and most Americans LOST IT because they refuse to see the BIG PICTURE!!!

    September 2, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  22. Bern in Western PA

    A Teabagger could be all alone on a desert island and pick a fight.

    September 2, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  23. Jim in San Mateo

    The Tea Party puts money before Country. We we think this National will continue if they are allowed to be in charge?

    September 2, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  24. BD70

    And therein lies the problem. The tea party believes they are right. Not entirely in my book. From my perspective they are wrong on quite a few things. But discussing or coming to a compromise with them. As far as I can tell they are closed minded focused and unwilling to work with the rest of the nation.

    September 2, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  25. Philojazz

    Please, oh, PLEASE, let the Tea Party people poison the GOP waters so much that they lose the 2012 election. PLEASE keep acting like spoiled idiots, you FreedomWorkers. PLEASE keep pushing your impossible demands, you TeaPartiers. And, maybe above all, PLEASE keep sounding and acting like loony nutter-butter hostess ding-dongs. Just keep it up, TPeople.

    September 2, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
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