FreedomWorks CEO promises Chris Matthews: Tea Party will ‘upgrade’ southern GOP by 2014
Despite reports that his group is nearly broke, FreedomWorks CEO Matt Kibbe predicted in an interview with MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Monday that his group would help Tea Party Republicans dominate the GOP within a year.
“I think it’s a process,” Kibbe told Matthews. “I think it happens by 2014, ’cause we’re trying to shift the center of gravity.”
Kibbe did note that he favored supporting moderate Republicans in liberal-leaning states, but southern states like South Carolina should be represented by a “hardcore constitutional conservative that doesn’t want to spend money we don’t have.”
However, Daily Beast correspondent Michael Tomasky challenged Kibbe’s forecast, calling it “delusional” and blaming the Tea Party for costing the GOP in states like New York and California.
“You remember, Chris: It was only 15, 20 years ago, the Republican party was competitive to dominant in California,” Tomasky told Matthews. “But [now] it’s dead. It’s dead because it’s gone so far right, and it’s gonna stay dead in states like California and New York. All they’re gonna do is play in these deep red states and they’re gonna elect more radical and extreme people.”
When Matthews specifically asked Kibbe if Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was among the lawmakers his group would like to see ousted in a primary — along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), Kibbe did not deny it.
“I do think we should upgrade from a lot of these Republicans who haven’t done what it takes to get this done,” Kibbe told Matthews.
“So in other words, that’s nice language for, ‘Let’s dump these guys,'” Matthews responded. “I don’t know what ‘upgrade’ means. Does that mean get rid of them?”
“We’re in the process of repopulating the Republican party with people that stand for something,” Kibbe explained to a visibly bemused Matthews.
“‘Upgrading’ and ‘repopulating’ — how’s that different than dumping?” Matthews asked again.
“The same thing happened when Ronald Reagan stepped onto the national scene in 1976,” Kibbe responded, ducking the question. “The GOP establishment hated it, Ronald Reagan became the new standard for what a Republican was.”
Watch the discussion, as aired on MSNBC on Monday, below.