Politics & Policy

Tea Partiers Furious at Gingrich

Tea Partiers are livid at Newt Gingrich for his remarks Sunday dismissing Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan and promoting the individual mandate.

Dick Armey, the chairman of Freedomworks who co-wrote the Contract with America with Newt Gingrich, told National Review Online that most in the Tea Party movement “were a little bit astounded” by Gingrich’s comments.

Armey says he doesn’t understand how Gingrich thought “he helps himself by attacking the one guy [Ryan] that they see as being courageous” about getting “government spending under control.”

Citing Gingrich’s support of Dede Scozzafava in the 2009 congressional election in New York’s 23rd district, his backing of Medicare Part D and TARP, and his commercial with Nancy Pelosi about climate change, Armey observes that “Newt entered the race with serious ground to make up with these 2 million tea party activists.”

“I would have thought he would have wanted to mend fences with these folks,” Armey says.

Brendan Steinhauser, director of Federal and State Campaigns for FreedomWorks, reports that the Tea Partier he’s talked to are “irate” at Gingrich. “For them, this is the fourth or fifth time he’s done something that has made them mad,” he says.

“I never met a single Tea Party activist that supported Newt Gingrich for president,” he adds.

Robin Stublen, who founded a Tea Party group in Florida, said that Gingrich has “too many flip flops about what we consider to be conservative values” to be a viable candidate for Tea Partiers.

Beyond Gingrich’s recent record, Stublen sees his past history as problematic.

“We had a golden opportunity in 1994 … and quite honestly, I think they blew it,” he says.

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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