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Word is that Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks is pulling out of the Tea Party Express’ “Reclaiming America” tour in protest of Mitt Romney’s appearance at our Concord, NH rally.

On Sunday, September 4th FreedomWorks will end its participation in the Tea Party Express “Reclaiming America” tour, and instead stand with local New Hampshire tea party leaders to protest Mitt Romney’s participation as the featured speaker in the tour’s Sunday evening event. The decision was made following the announcement of Romney’s headliner speech on the tour, and a speech made earlier in the tour by big-government Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.

“Mitt Romney and Orrin Hatch have actively and consistently supported expanding the role of government through government-run health care, Wall Street bailouts and spending hikes. Those positions are unacceptable to the tea party principles of lower taxes, less government and more freedom,” commented Matt Kibbe, President of FreedomWorks. “For these reasons, we have decided to end our participation in the Reclaiming America tour.”

FreedomWorks will join representatives from local New Hampshire liberty groups for a press conference Sunday, September 4th at 5:30pm ET in Rollins Park, Concord, New Hampshire to protest Mitt Romney’s participation in the Tea Party Express bus tour. The speech will begin at 6pm ET.

“The tea party in New Hampshire is determined to help elect a candidate dedicated to this country’s founding principles of limited government, individual responsibility and individual freedom,” commented Andrew Hemingway, head of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire. “Mitt Romney is clearly not that candidate.”

FreedomWorks has consistently heard from its members that Romney is not an acceptable presidential candidate, objecting to his support for government-run healthcare, the TARP bailout, and his cloudy stance on cap and trade. FreedomWorks has also been a leading voice in the movement to retire Senator Orrin Hatch for his decades of bad votes expanding government and seeks to replace him with a principled fiscal conservative.

Kibbe added, “One of the great successes of the decentralized tea party movement has been its ability to self-police. If every political opportunist claiming to be a tea partier is accepted unconditionally, then the tea party brand loses all meaning. Our grassroots activists will be in New Hampshire on Sunday to defend the tea party ideas of small government and fiscal responsibility, and to remind Mitt Romney that when it comes to policy, actions speak louder than words.”

In response. the Tea Party Express stated:

FreedomWorks has made the decision to protest the Tea Party Express rally in Concord, NH on Sunday evening due to an appearance by Governor Mitt Romney.

We’ve been very clear that this presidential tour is open to presidential candidates who want to speak to the tea party, and many candidates have confirmed they will attend. This is their chance to make their case to the tea party audience about why they deserve support from the tea party movement.

Mitt Romney is one speaker out of many that include Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Thaddeus McCotter, Gary Johnson, and Buddy Roemer.

It’s just silly to protest a tea party where Governor Romney is speaking. It would be just as ridiculous to protest Senator DeMint’s gathering on Monday, to which Romney has also been invited. Narrow mindedness is not the way to strengthen the tea party movement.

The Tea Party Express has a reputation for being inclusive during its rallies. Even when we have endorsed a candidate, we have still allowed their political opponents to speak. That’s because the Tea Party Express trusts the ability of tea party members to evaluate candidates and issues, and make up their own minds. We don’t think it is right to tell the tea party who they can and can’t listen to. A top-down isolationist approach isn’t constructive to the political process.

We view this move by FreedomWorks at best as a misguided press stunt, and are disappointed at the disingenuous approach taken after we have made every effort to be inclusive and accommodating on our national bus tour.

Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation weighs in:

This news broke a couple of hours ago and I have already received emails about this.
“How could they?” is the common theme.

First, it is great that Romney is coming to the Tea Party Express event.

Great?

Yes. Great.

No, the Tea Party movement is not going RINO. Tea Party Express has invited all of the candidates to speak. That is fair and reasonable. It is a testament to the power of this movement that Romney, who to this point has eschewed all Tea Party involvement, now wants to speak to this movement.

Tea Party Express could have said no. It is a good thing they said yes.

First, unlike the left, we in the Tea Party believe in the free market of ideas. We believe in letting the ideas get out there and compete and have the best ideas win. Unlike the left, we do not have a top down structure and we do not tell people what they have to believe.

Let Romney come and speak. I also want to see Bachmann, Perry, Cain and Gingrich at some Tea Party Express stops as well.

There is also a practical political aspect to this decision. Most in the Tea Party are not fans of Mitt Romney. I have opined that he is a flawed candidate who would not do well against Obama. In a recent TPN poll, only 3% said they supported Romney. However, TPN is not the total universe of potential voters. Until Perry got into the race, Romney was the front-runner. At one point, he was comfortably ahead, though Michele Bachmann had really started closing on him.

While I do not believe the odds favor Romney in his campaign to become the 45th President, let’s not kid ourselves either. If anyone says there is no way Romney can win, they are deluding themselves. If the conservative vote splits between Perry, Bachmann, Gingrich and possibly Palin, Romney could win. If Romney becomes the nominee, the Tea Party will have a choice. Vote for Romney or see a second Obama term.

Who’s up for Obama 2.0? I’m not.

Politics is a sport of personalities. Politicians are human and they remember who was with them and who kicked them to the curb.

My preference is a strong conservative who is committed to dismantling socialism. But if Romney is the nominee and becomes the 45th President, I want his door to be open to the Tea Party movement.

What I really want to see is one of these candidates come out with a strong plan to dismantle socialism. The candidate who does that will be the winner.