In a wide- ranging one on one interview with The Brody File in Hawaii, Former GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey signaled his support for embattled RNC Chairman Michael Steele but warned that Tea Party patriots view the Republican Party as on “probation” and will march alone if the GOP continues to make “insincere promises”. However, Armey says creating a third political party is not a good idea. Armey also thinks Republicans can win back the House in 2010 if they play their cards right.
The Brody File sat down with Dick Armey here in Honolulu. The Freedom Works chairman and one of the Tea Party movements top honchos was invited to the RNC meetings by conservative members of the Party.
We’ll have video excerpts of the interview up on the blog Monday including exclusive video of Armey speaking to dozens of conservative members at the RNC. You can also watch the extended version of the interview on this week’s 30 minute Brody File show starting Monday night. For now though, here are some excerpts transcribed for your pleasure:
David Brody: Are you a supporter of Michael Steele and the job he’s doing?
Dick Armey: “I think quite a bit of Michael Steele. I think he’s more like me than most of the people I can think of. He’s a true believer and a small government conservative. He’s trying to round up and keep in order a heard of cats all of which have multi faceted dispositions and so forth trying to develop a discipline. It’s always hard. It was hard for me even in the best of our days in the majority.”
Dick Armey: “We think of the Republican Party as being on probation.”… “We don’t particularly care to hang around with people who are making insincere promises to fulfill their political objectives. If they don’t understand the ideas are bigger than the man, the idea is bigger than the party, the idea is bigger than the moment then we’re not particularly willing to be with them and give them the sense of our endorsement.”
Dick Armey: “The tea party patriots, the grassroots activists their hope is rehabilitate and reform the Republican party and get it back to the party of Reagan. It doesn’t have to be 100 percent perfect that way but it has to be dominant that way and then we have a place to invest our dreams. If we invest our dreams in a third party we’ll be like Ross Perot. He went on the most expensive ego trip in the history of the World and nobody got elected.”
Dick Armey: “They’re (Tea Party activists) as ordinary as you can find. These are not people sitting around in their basements with their Bibles and guns gathered around looking for the invasion. These are real ordinary folks.”
Dick Armey: “If the Republican Party rises to their occasion and rediscovers themselves they’ll march with the Republican Party and the Republican Party will win more than it otherwise would have won. If in fact the Republican Party complies with this simple minded itty bitty big tent notion they got that half our candidates should act like Republicans and the other half like Democrats the Republicans will march alone.”
On whether Republicans can win back majority control of the House of Representatives:
Dick Armey: “Yes, I think it is altogether possible but my message to the Republicans is count on the Democrats having alienated the voters at large to the loss of say 10-15 seats. Count on that. That cat is in the bag. The question is can you rise enough to the occasion to make yourself attractive to those folks that they’ll exercise the energy that allows you to take the remaining seats. If they can in fact demonstrate a commitment to sound enduring principles of freedom, personal liberty, small government responsibility they could take the House. I think the House is our easier shot than the Senate just because of the demographics of the races. The Senate is not out of their reach.”
On the column written by David Brooks in The New York Times about the Tea Party movement where Brooks claimed he wasn’t a fan of the movement (read the column here)
Here are a few excerpts of what Brooks wrote:
David Brooks "The tea party movement is a large, fractious confederation of Americans who are defined by what they are against."
David Brooks "Over the course of this year, the tea party movement will probably be transformed. Right now, it is an amateurish movement with mediocre leadership. But several bright and polished politicians, like Marco Rubio of Florida and Gary Johnson of New Mexico, are unofficially competing to become its de facto leader. If they succeed, their movement is likely to outgrow its crude beginnings and become a major force in American politics."
David Brooks "In the near term, the tea party tendency will dominate the Republican Party. It could be the ruin of the party, pulling it in an angry direction that suburban voters will not tolerate. But don’t underestimate the deep reservoirs of public disgust. If there is a double-dip recession, a long period of stagnation, a fiscal crisis, a terrorist attack or some other major scandal or event, the country could demand total change, creating a vacuum that only the tea party movement and its inheritors would be in a position to fill. Personally, I’m not a fan of this movement. But I can certainly see its potential to shape the coming decade."
Dick Armey response to Brooks: “It’s a clearly elitist point of view. First of all, the small government grassroots activists are not bound together by what they’re against. They’re bound together by what they love and what they cherish and that is they love the American Constitution, the genius and the greatness of America and they’re bound not by their anger and their hatred but by their fear that we’ve got a gang of people in Washington today that do not appreciate that America is greatest blessing in the history of the World and the genius all comes out of that constitution but would be destructive of it.”
“This fella, I mean he just doesn’t get it. It’s too bad for him. He’s missing a marvelous thing. I wonder if he’s ever walked among them. Just walk through the crowd.”
“He’s completely uninformed and arrogant in his misunderstanding.”