With the dust finally clearing from the 2012 election, FreedomWorks, an organization that organizes and trains the grassroots, hosted over 100 activists from 19 states for a debrief on this year’s campaigns — finding out what tactics and strategies did and didn’t work.
This weekend also provided these Freedom Movement activists, all of which were flown into Washington, DC for the meeting at FreedomWorks’ headquarters, an opportunity to plan for 2014, as well as to receive some training in new techniques to help get their message out to new voters and to get an idea of what is going on in the negotiations over the so-called “fiscal cliff” and the status of ObamaCare’s state healthcare exchanges.
This morning, FreedomWorks hosted a press conference that give activists an opportunity to be heard by the media. Before turning over the press conference to activists, Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, explained that “[t]here’s more energy in this movement today than there was on November 6th,” adding that the the activists that showed up this weekend are focused on 2014 and ideas.
Kibbe also noted that the debate and negotiations on the “fiscal cliff” were somewhat peculiar. “I don’t know about you, but I feel like we went over the fiscal cliff a long time ago,” explained Kibbe.
Deneen Borelli, Director of Outreach at FreedomWorks, explained that the obstacles that presented themselves in 2012 are high. “We have our work cut out for us,” she said, noting that minority and youth outreach were priorities moving forward. Borelli hightlighted some areas on which the Freedom Movement needs to focus — including crony capitalism, energy, and school choice. On the latter, Borelli explained, “Kids need a quality education; without it, what are they going to do?”
Activists had a lot to say, though the sentiment was best described Andrew Pappas, a small business owner from Ohio. Pappas explained the issues facing small businesses, and these hurdles are being exacerbated by President Barack Obama’s push for higher taxes. Pappas explained that the economic policies pushed by the Obama Administration have resulted in higher prices for goods and services, due in part to higher inflation.
Pappas heaped praise on FreedomWorks, noting that when left the press conference he was a “FreedomWorks ambassador.”
Before allow reporters the opportunity to speak to activists, Kibbe looked back on 2012, noting some successes, despite the media’s focus on one or two failures. Kibbe noted that 2014 is just on the horizon and more primary challenges are sure to follow, specifically looking at activists from Georgia and the possibility for an interesting race there, though he didn’t mention Sen. Saxby Chambliss by name.
Those activists from Georgia explained to me that they were not happy with Sen. Chambliss, calling him a flip-flopper. While there was agreement that Chambliss, who recently said that he’s willing to break his pledge to oppose tax hikes, needed to go, they were split on potential candidates who may challenge him. One spoke favorably of Rep. Tom Price; the other of former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel. However, they both noted that whoever emerged as the most likely to beat Chambliss would get their support. Needless to say, they’re very motivated to find and work for an electable conservative who can knock off Chambliss in 2014.
While the politicial face of the movement has become apparent, Kibbe explained that there is more at its heart “Politics is just one piece of what we are trying to accomplish. We are working to build a community of engaged individuals who believe in the ideas of individual freedom and constitutionally-limited government, and will work to advance those ideas at all levels of government,” Kibbie.
“After this weekend, it’s clear that the freedom movement is coming out of the 2012 election cycle bigger, stronger, more fired up and more sophisticated than it was going in. We’re ready to take on state battles like pension reform, health care exchanges and school choice. I am very optimistic heading into 2013.”
While many pundits are talking about the demise of the Freedom Movement, these activists, and many more like them across the country, are showing that they are geared up and ready for 2014, when the opportunity take the Senate and build on the GOP’s House majority are once again on the table.