Chairman Mao, the man who sparked a communist takeover in China, once said, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”:
We have endured a couple of weeks of terrifying gun violence. There was The mall shooting in Oregon on Dec. 11. The heartbreaking slaughter of innocents at Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14 And on Christmas Eve, a deranged murderer who served time for killing his grandmother with a hammer intentionally set his house ablaze and shot at responding firefighters (killing two) because he wanted to “do what I like doing best, killing people.”
So, as you might imagine, a chill went through me when I read the opening vignette in Amy Gardner’s article in The Post this morning about the struggles within the tea party group FreedomWorks.
More details have arisen regarding the split between Dick Armey and FreedomWorks from this Mother Jones article, reported early this Christmas Eve. The article specifically details a memo that was released by Matt Kibbe, President of FreedomWorks, that outlines his take on the dynamics of the split:
When the news broke in early December that former GOP Rep. Dick Armey had abruptly resigned as chairman of FreedomWorks, a powerhouse of the conservative movement and an instrumental force within the tea party, Armey maintained that the nasty split was due to differences he had with the top management of FreedomWorks about the group’s operations and future.
But Matt Kibbe’s memo paints a very different picture of the split.
One of the first actions taken by Dick Armey [after the September meeting] is his attempt to reassess our political priorities. “We have to help my friend Tommy Thompson,” he tells the staff in his first meeting with them. He later tells the staff that he has discussed the Missouri Senate race with “my friend [Senator] Roy Blunt, and he says they really need grassroots cover for Todd Akin.” FreedomWorks PAC had endorsed John Brunner, who barely lost to Akin [in the GOP primary]. We had declined to endorse Akin, even before “legitimate rape” became a late night punch line.
It seems to all be boiling down to Armey saying it’s about a book deal, specifically Hostile Takeover. Kibbe says it’s clearly about the establishment vs. the grassroots, which, ironically, is the entire point of the book.
After yesterday’s press conference with more than 100 activists who spoke with reporters about this year’s election and 2014, there has been more news coming from FreedomWorks. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who has served as chairman of the grassroots organization since 2003, has resigned his post due to issues over what direction FreedomWorks should take going forward:
In a move not publicly announced, former Rep. Dick Armey, the folksy conservative leader, has resigned as chairman of FreedomWorks, one of the main political outfits of the conservative movement and an instrumental force within the tea party.
Armey, the former House majority leader who helped develop and promote the GOP’s Contract with America in the 1990s, tendered his resignation in an memo sent to Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks, on November 30. Mother Jones obtained the email on Monday, and Armey has confirmed he sent it. The tone of the memo suggests that this was not an amicable separation. (See Armey’s email below.) Armey demanded that he be paid until his contract ended on December 31; that FreedomWorks remove his name, image, or signature “from all its letters, print media, postings, web sites, videos, testimonials, endorsements, fund raising materials, and social media, including but not limited to Facebook and Twitter”; and that FreedomWorks deliver the copy of his official congressional portrait to his home in Texas.
After finishing a distant second to Mitt Romney in Nevada on Saturday, Newt Gingrich became unhinged during an evening press conference, promising a prolonged battle for the Republican nomination:
Newt Gingrich vowed again to stay in the Republican presidential contest until the convention in August and said he will spend the next several months engaged in a bitter battle with Mitt Romney.
Speaking to the press after the Nevada caucuses Saturday, Mr. Gingrich repeatedly hammered Mr. Romney as a pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-taxes candidate who has the backing of the Republican establishment.
“I am a candidate for president of the United States,” he said. “I will be a candidate for president of the United States. I will go to Tampa.”
Mr. Romney ignored Mr. Gingrich in his victory speech tonight. But Mr. Gingrich seemed insistent on making sure that his rival cannot simply look the other way.
He accused Mr. Romney of purposely leaking false information about Mr. Gingrich’s plans to drop out of the presidential race, calling that Mr. Romney’s “greatest fantasy” in the race.
And Mr. Gingrich said that recent meetings he held with donors were meant to map out a plan to continue getting his message out despite Mr. Romney’s superior fund-raising.
“The entire establishment will be against us,” he predicted. But he said that by appearing on national television and doing interviews in newspapers, he will spread his agenda.
“The American people want somebody who is genuinely conservative, who is prepared to change Washington,” Mr. Gingrich said.
As Mitt Romney tries to do more to appeal to the tea party movement, a sizeable and influential voting bloc looking to make its mark on the Republican primary, FreedomWorks is putting a target on his back:
A top tea party organizing group, FreedomWorks, is planning to protest Mitt Romney’s appearance this weekend at a New Hampshire stop of a bus tour intended to encourage tea party sympathizers to participate in the Republican presidential nominating process.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is among the leading candidates for the GOP presidential nomination but is viewed warily by tea party activists, who believe him to be insufficiently conservative and particularly blame him for the Massachusetts state health care overhaul he signed into law.
And Romney, for his part, hasn’t focused much energy on appealing to the movement. So it attracted considerable attention — both within the tea party and among the GOP operative class — when it was announced Tuesday that he intended to speak at a Sunday evening rally being staged by the Tea Party Express in Concord, N.H., as part of a cross country bus tour set to culminate in Tampa, Fla., ahead of a Sept. 12 GOP presidential debate co-sponsored by the Tea Party Express and CNN.
FreedomWorks, which had been participating in the Tea Party Express’s tour and had helped turn out activists at rallies during prior stops, decided it could no longer be affiliated with the tour, said Brendan Steinhauser, a lead organizer for FreedomWorks.
Even though we’re facing another trillion dollar budget deficit, a $14.3 trillion national debt and $61.6 trillion in unfunded liabilities, President Barack Obama is pushing for another bailout for Greece:
President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged European countries and bondholders to prevent a “disastrous” default by Greece and pledged U.S. support to help tackle the country’s debt crisis.
After a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he stressed the importance of German “leadership” on the issue - a hint that he expects Berlin to help - while expressing sympathy for the political difficulties European Union countries face in helping a struggling member state.
“I’m confident that Germany’s leadership, along with other key actors in Europe, will help us arrive at a path for Greece to return to growth, for this debt to become more manageable,” Obama said.
“But it’s going to require some patience and some time. And we have pledged to cooperate fully in working through these issues, both on a bilateral basis but also through international and financial institutions like the IMF.”
A proposal for a second Greek bailout package worth 80 billion to 100 billion euros over three years was taking shape, euro zone sources said.
Dick Armey and Mitt Kibbe of FreedomWorks are, needless to say, disappointed that the Obama Administration and the International Monetary Fund are again setting up Americans taxpayers to be hit with the burden of more bailouts:
While President Barack Obama’s team believes Mitt Romney is their biggest threat in 2012 (sorry, I just don’t see why they think that), the folks at FreedomWorks note that his lack of authencity and his health care plan that served as a blueprint for ObamaCare is leading tea party activists to reject his candidacy:
FreedomWorks is led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) and Matt Kibbe, an economist and former Capitol Hill aide. More than 30 employees, as well as a fresh class of several interns, work out of spacious seventh floor offices near the U.S. Capitol. The group knows they cannot impose their will on the fiercely independent conservative organizers fueling the Tea Party. But they say the activist base is just as anti-Romney as they are.
Kibbe said in an interview that FreedomWorks has no plans at the moment to endorse an opponent of Romney’s in the primary. But others in the organization made clear they will devote considerable resources toward helping whoever emerges as the most viable Republican in the primary other than the putative front runner.
Brendan Steinhauser, who travels around the country meeting with activists as FreedomWorks’ top liaison to the grassroots, said most people he talks to are “definitely trying to stop Romney.”
As I noted yesterday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in Iowa. In his speech - which his team is calling “A Time for Truth,” Pawlenty warned that the mounting debt and liabilities and economic policies of President Barack Obama will lead to troubles that will make our most recent troubles seem like a cakewalk.
Here is some video from the announcement:
Pawlenty made a bold move in his speech by explaining that ethanol subsidies, which are supported by some other candidates for the GOP nomination; including Newt Gingrich, will need to be phased out.
Pawlenty also received praise from Dick Armey, former House Majority Leader and current chairman of FreedomWorks, who was interviewed on CNBC by Joe Kernan about the GOP field:
“We went from trying to balance the budget to using the budget as a pork barrel. We went from entrepreneurs to bureaucrats, from the great ideas to the selfish ideas. But I also refine my understanding-there are two kinds of bureaucrats: benign bureaucrats and malevolent ones. The benign bureaucrat was Denny Hastert. He meant no harm to anybody. He just wanted life to be easy.” - Dick Armey, on what went wrong after the 1994 Republican Revolution