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hardball
updated 1/8/2013 7:21:17 PM ET 2013-01-09T00:21:17

Armey told host Chris Matthews that Democrats have "unusual" and "strange" planks in their party platform.

In Dick Armey’s world, Democrats want abortion to be as available as pay-per-view movies.

The former House Republican Majority Leader and former Freedom Works chairman insisted on Tuesday that the left wants “abortion on demand” during a discussion on Hardball about the divisions in the GOP.

Armey acknowledged there had been several “foolish mistakes” the GOP made during the campaign season, including Mitt Romney’s remarks about the 47%. He insisted the party was trying to “rediscover its relationship” with constitutional limitations on big government and fiscal responsibility.

Host Chris Matthews asked why, if the Republicans are really the party of limited government, does the party have its candidates trying to get rid of contraception, and outlaw gay marriage and abortion. “Why don’t you stay out of people’s lives if you really wanted limited government?” asked Matthews.

The former lawmaker insisted that there were simply a few bad apple candidates, just like the Democrats have “had a few rather strange people” too. When Matthews pointed out the GOP platform includes items about personhood and contraception, Armey insisted the Democrats also have “unusual” and “strange” items in their platform.

“Name one,” Matthews challenged.

“Homosexual marriage, all right. Abortion on demand,” Armey shot back. “These issues are in your platform. You don’t think it’s strange for these issues to be in your platform pointing in one direction, but you consider it outrageous that the other party has the same issues pointing in the another direction in their platform.”

Matthews responded, saying “The Democratic party generally supports Roe vs. Wade. It does not support ‘abortion on demand,’” adding the issue of gay marriage is going to be decided state by state, not nationally.

During the interview Armey also took a shot at FreedomWorks’ Matt Kibbe. The two had an apparent falling out after Armey tendered his resignation. According to the Washington Post, Armey staged a coup to oust Kibbe. According to the account, Armey walked into the Tea Party-linked group’s headquarters on Capitol Hill on Sept 4 with and armed aide and proceeded to expel Kibbe and senior Vice President Adam Brandon from the premises.

The situation was reportedly resolved after FreedomWorks benefactor Richard J. Stephenson agreed to pay Armey $8 million over the course of two decades in exchange for Armey’s departure.

Armey said that Kibbe–a frequent Hardball guest–can “be a good spokesman,” but “when he gets misguided, when he gets a sense of misdirection…he probably ends up wasting a lot of opportunity.”

“That’s a course for him to work out. I’m retired from FreedomWorks,” said Armey.

Video: Armey: There is an intellectual struggle in the GOP

  1. Closed captioning of: Armey: There is an intellectual struggle in the GOP

    >>> welcome back to "hardball." ever since the republicans lost in november, the parties appeared to be in kind of a civil war and donors are zipping their wallets because these don't like the party 's direction. yet the tea party wing wants to push the party further right in some cases. what's going on with the republican party ? we've got an expert. the former house republican majority leader and former freedom works chairman dick armey . mr. armey, i'm a hill rat and i always look up to guys that have been elected. i'm going to ask you broad questions, we'll narrow it down to freedom works later on. what's going on with your party ? i thought in that first debate romney had the number on the president. he's talking about spending, creating jobs, sticking to economics. he looked like he had a winning line and then he went to benghazi and rape and rotten apple stuff. why wasn't your party what it should have been this year?

    >> obviously there are a lot of foolish mistakes and that 48% of the american people thing that he did. most of the mistake were mistakes made by candidates on the campaign trail. what the party is struggling with within itself is how after george w. bush and the spendthrift majority that they lost stuff with a few years ago trying to rediscover its relationship to constitutional limitations on big government , fiscal responsibility, limited government regulation administration during a period of time when obviously you have the president who is hard against that and a great communicator for his big government point of view. so there's an intellectual struggle here, but it is a party that is once again searching its way back to the kind of party that once held the affection and the respect and won the votes of the american people . they just have to struggle along as it moves in that direction.

    >> you're an economics professor. you're a philosopher of sorts. you have always said to me you're not a politician. if you say you're the party of limited government , of constitutional authority and limited government in its try us sense, why do you have guys like rick santorum running for president to outlaw or get rid of contraception. why does your party want a national law against gay marriage ? where why are you so much involved in abortion all the time? why do you have candidates talking about rape victims? why don't you stay out of people's lives if you really want limited government ?

    >> well, once again you have to understand, first of all, in our party and i would hope the same in the democrat party , if you fill out the proper forms, put down the correct registration fees, you can run for whatever office you want. you have had a few rather strange people running in a democrat primary on occasions. we have some people in our primaries sometimes. everybody has a right to be their own person emphasizing that which they think is most important to them. what we did in our movement, what is known as the tea party movement, we tried to get everybody focused on the broad economic issues, the bread and butter issues, the job issues, those are the important things for the american people .

    >> why is your party platform have all this other -- mr. armey, i respect you, i know you care about your politics, you're a true bleacher but you're not making sense. why does your party fill its platform with this stuff, creating personhood for somebody a second after there's a conception, a fertilized egg , giving that fertilized egg 14th amendment rights to property? why do you keep getting involved with this nutty stuff in your platform if you say it's just the crazy candidates?

    >> well, this is a problem we have. maybe it's a communication problem. maybe it's that you're so misguided you think i'm misguided.

    >> no, i read your party 's platform. do you? i read the platform. it's not just rotten apples . it's your point of view.

    >> the democratic party has all kind of things in their platform that i think are unusual, strange, or miss the big points of the nation's biggest --

    >> name one. name one.

    >> every party 's platform --

    >> well, name one.

    >> well, what is it, homosexual marriage , all right. abortion on demand. these issues are in your platform. you don't think it's strange for these issues to be in your platform pointing in one direction, but you consider it outrageous that the other party has the same issues pointing in another direction in their platform.

    >> well, the democratic party generally supports roe v. wade . it does not support abortion on demand. and i got to tell you, the issue that's going to be decided state by state, the issue of a marriage and it's not going to be decided by a national point of view which is let's outlaw gay marriage . let me ask you about your situation. first -- i'm going to go to freedom works . i have to talk -- go ahead.

    >> i'm happy to have that issue settled wherever it is. i don't consider that to be the driving concern, worry, anxiety, anxiousness of the american people . we're worried about whether or not our children will have a job, a safe home, comfort, and warmth and a future retirement.

    >> i think your party 's main strength and your ideology main strength is government spending . i think most americans, right, center, except for the far left, think we're spending too much money by the federal government and the deficit thing is really and the debt thing is real and we're really in trouble p.m. i agree and it's a great strength. you should play to your strengths. let me ask you about freedomworks. we've had matt kibbe sitting in that chair across my table here so many nights and he's a good spokesman for a conservative point of view, a tea party point of view. should we keep having him on or not?

    >> well, i mean, obviously it's your show, you go ahead.

    >> what do you recommend?

    >> when matt stays focused on the issues that are important to the broad base constituencies of this grassroots movement and the voting interests and on family concerns of the nation, he can be a good spokesman for them, but the question is, is he going to take his work and walk the walk along the same avenue as he talks the talk? when he gets misguided, when he gets a sense of misdirection for the activities, the energies, where he's going to put places, he probably ends up wasting a lot of opportunity and missing opportunities. but that's a course for him to work out. i'm retired from freedom works . they will have to work out their business on their own terms.

    >> what is the fight within freedomworks? what's the fight? tell us -- tell the outsider who is not a tea party person, no the a freedom works person, who is all this noise coming out of the tea party movement, especially fre dom works. what is the fight about?

    >> first of all, understand the tea party movement is so much larger than freedom works . freedom works has been a very important part. what i'm anxious for for freedom works to once again be that organization of activist volunteers working across the country with a clear set of ideas, principles, policy objectives, and focusing their energy on that so that we can have a contribution to the kind of results we had in the election year of 2010 . i believe the organization has gone adrift from that. i'm excited for the possibility that it will find its way back to the service, the great ideas that it did for all those many years.

    >> okay. and if i read you right, you're much better off focusing on the economic issues on the right than focusing on abortion and contraception and gay marriage . you don't think you really have to talk about those issues much, right? you agree with that?

    >> again, and, of course, we've had people on our side of the aisle upset with me about saying that. but, you know, i got this years yoond a years ago from the head of the texas right to work committee, which was take your position on this issue and keep your mouth shut about it. talk on the campaign trail about those issues that don't upset people where you can find agreement and they can share with you their real anxious concerns about their family and its future.

    >> sounds right to me on the right. i'm not on the right but it sounds right. thank you very much dick arm yi.

    >>> you wouldn't think it was possible but the governor of pennsylvania has made the penn state scandal worse. he says the real victims are the football program and the fans. buzz businessen injury has a few things to say about that baby and this is "hardball," the place for politics.

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