FreedomWorks chief: If Romney’s the nominee, tea partiers might have to stay home

posted at 4:10 pm on June 10, 2011 by Allahpundit

Don’t look now, but between this and Amy Kremer’s comments on Fox last weekend, we’ve got a bona fide tea-party split over Mitt.

I knew that FreedomWorks was intent on torpedoing him in the primary but I didn’t think they’d take it quite this far quite so soon. Better Obama II than Romney I?

If Mitt Romney wins the Republican nomination for president, Tea Party activists may not show up at all to vote in the general election, one leading group associated with the Tea Party movement is warning.

“I think that’s a potential problem,” said Matt Kibbe, FreedomWorks’ president, during a wide-ranging interview with reporters at The Daily Caller.

He also warned that if Republicans nominate another “John McCain,” activists might even vote third party in 2012.

“I believe in redemption, but at some point, you sort of give up,” he said. “And we’ve given up on Mitt Romney.”

An idle threat? Potentially not:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely U.S. Voters finds that in a three-way congressional contest with a Tea Party candidate on the ballot, the Democrat picks up 40% of the vote. The Republican earns 21% support, while nearly as many (18%) favor the Tea Party candidate. Twenty-one percent (21%), however, remain undecided…

In the new survey, the Tea Party candidate draws 28% support from GOP voters, while 85% of Democrats back their party’s candidate. Just 45% of Republicans support the Republican candidate in the three-way matchup. Among voters not affiliated with either of the major parties, 15% like the Republican, 29% the Democrat and 25% the Tea Party candidate.

When asked about Romney’s rivals, Kibbe told the DC that Cain could be vulnerable for his TARP position and that, while he likes Palin, “she needs to prove that she can study up.” Where does that leave FreedomWorks at the moment, then? With Bachmann? I’m skeptical given their approach to the Castle/O’Donnell primary in Delaware. While other tea-party heroes like Palin and DeMint lined up behind O’D, Kibbe told the Christian Science Monitor at the time, “We stayed out of that race because we are not convinced that Christine O’Donnell can win.” Bachmann’s a longer shot for the nomination than O’Donnell was in her Senate race, so presumably she’s not an option for them. Maybe they’re holding out for Perry to jump in? Or maybe, per their O’Donnell logic, they’re going to invest in Pawlenty as a conservative yet electable candidate.

It’s worth flagging this if for no other reason than as a sneak preview of how wrenching Romney’s nomination could be within the party, especially among activists. The possibility of people staying home in protest is real but it’s already priced into his stock; what hasn’t been fully considered yet is the prospect of rifts opening within the grassroots and between tea party groups as people choose sides between the Kibbe and Kremer approaches. Any group that bolsters Obama’s chances by walking away will be so vilified afterwards that they’ll be essentially committing themselves to a fully third-party identity. Maybe FreedomWorks will think better of that strategy — Kibbe could simply be bluffing to nudge people towards nominating someone else — but “we’ve given up on Mitt Romney” is pretty high-stakes.

Update: Tabitha Hale of FreedomWorks tweets that we shouldn’t jump to any conclusions:

The piece didn’t say it was “purity” or Obama at all. In fact, Kibbe actually said opposite – that he was CONCERNED about that.

We’re willing to rally, right now we’re not sure around who – but this is the time to duke it out.

Okay, but if there’s a chance the group might grudgingly support Romney in the interest of beating Obama, why drop “we’ve given up on Mitt Romney” on him now?

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The Tea Party better take note: I am a Tea Party guy and I will vote for whoever runs for President that has what it takes. When the Tea Party starts “advising” me on my pick I will not longer drink their TEA.

psychocyber on June 11, 2011 at 8:02 PM

The voice of the people will decide the nominee. I can live with that.

If you don’t like Romney don’t vote for him. I doubt he will win, and if you doubt it too why are you so up in arms? You hate that he is smarter than the others and can think strategically, fine then hate him. But I want the smart strategic thinker over the duds that are the Tea Party candidates.

If you like Obama better than Romney, by all means vote for Obama.

But then shut the hell up. Because if you so much as make a peep of complaint after choosing socialism for all of us. You are not going to ever be welcome among true conservatives again.

You show your true political colors when you vote for socialism.

Class envy belongs in socialism so I am not surprised that is how you fake Tea Party conservatives would vote. You have much more in common with Democrats and your conservatism is fake and plastic and filled with class envy.

petunia on June 11, 2011 at 8:03 PM

OK, OK…… I am a Palin 2012 guy too….

psychocyber on June 11, 2011 at 8:03 PM

The people who are saying that RINOs are the real threat to the country obviously haven’t been paying attention to anything that’s happened since 2009.

Pcoop on June 11, 2011 at 6:16 PM

What are you talking about? We are HERE because of RINOs and their eternal tacking to that mushy middle or loony left while ignoring or trashing the GOP base.

pseudoforce on June 11, 2011 at 11:10 PM

What are you talking about? We are HERE because of RINOs and their eternal tacking to that mushy middle or loony left while ignoring or trashing the GOP base.

pseudoforce on June 11, 2011 at 11:10 PM

No we are here because you and your think ideological purity gets anyone anywhere in a pluristic society. You get your way or you sabatoge the country in revenge. So instead of McCain we got Obama… you win, your point is made, look at the results of your purity tests!

The right stayed home Obama won and we are know 100 times worse off than under any Republican.

You people are discontents. It doesn’t matter who has power you hate them and blame everyone but yourselves. YOu could have stopped this 14 trillion dollar train wreck instead you wanted purity.

Now we have pure socialism. Good thing we didn’t get someone softly conservative… Because that would be immoral.

petunia on June 12, 2011 at 2:38 AM

petunia on June 12, 2011 at 2:38 AM

*standing ovation*

Well said.

Conservative Samizdat on June 12, 2011 at 6:33 PM

You keep trying to make this act work as an argument for Romneycare being conservative, but there’s such a big difference between them that the argument is specious at best.

tom on June 11, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Why do you think mandating people who have the ability to pay for health insurance and don’t, then use free access to healthcare in ER’s, why is that viewpoint conservative?

sheryl on June 11, 2011 at 1:23 PM

I knew I should have watched this page a little bit longer. That’s a fine set of straw men you’ve constructed.

EMTALA had nothing to say about people who have the ability to pay for health insurance and don’t. It simply said that an ER could not refuse to treat someone in an emergency simply because they could not pay.

There was no individual mandate that people purchase anything. The only reason you keep using the word “mandate” is so it will sound more like Romneycare, but that’s just cheap semantics. Technically, every law by nature is a mandate of some kind or another. It’s not the fact of a mandate that’s bad, or all laws would be bad, but the content of that mandate. In Romneycare’s case, the government mandates that every person buy health insurance. Then, of course, it further restricts the kind of health insurance they must buy.

What we wind up with is a government-required, government-restricted, and government-regulated market. It’s bad enough that health insurance will inevitably be government-regulated, and that new restrictions are placed on all health insurers as to what they must insure and what conditions they are not allowed to consider. On top of everything, the government then mandates that every person buy one of the government-approved plans. We effectively then have a state-controlled market in all but name.

Keep pitching, but it’s not selling.

tom on June 12, 2011 at 6:53 PM

Now we have pure socialism. Good thing we didn’t get someone softly conservative… Because that would be immoral.

petunia on June 12, 2011 at 2:38 AM

Ok, so your plan is to encourage the republicans to only ever run a candidate one small step right of the Democrats. The choices should only ever be true socialism and socialism-light with no other options.

Anyone who would want to hold the Republicans responsible and work toward actual conservatism that might have true fiscal conservatism take place is a horrible person who wants evil for the world.

We must spend trillions we don’t have, and have both parties do this until we finally go bankrupt as a nation… anyone trying to stop this from happening is evil and awful.

We need to make sure the two parties are both as far left as we can have them, and never let anyone do anything that might push them to the right.

That’s your goal, right? Or did you think your planning and actions here would result in something else?

Would you care to explain how constantly rewarding the liberal/RINO candidates in every election will result in fewer of them? When you reward a behavior, don’t you get more of it?

What happens if I don’t support your goals of pushing the Republicans to the left and opposing either party being fiscally conservative and responsible petunia?

You are not going to ever be welcome among true conservatives again.

Ah yes, for any true conservative knows that we need RINO candidates and that actually having conservative candidates is evil.. or something.

Why do “true conservatives” want to avoid having any conservative candidates and will be horrified that I might want a party that is a bit more conservative than socailism-light again?

I’m afraid even with all your screeds here I haven’t gotten why having neither party being in any way fiscally sane is a good thing. Why do we need bankruptcy within my lifetime?

gekkobear on June 13, 2011 at 12:28 PM

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