FreedomWorks chief praises Paul filibuster, dismisses GOP split

Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of Tea Party group FreedomWorks, on Sunday rejected suggestions that Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) filibuster on drones had weakened the GOP’s image on national security issues.

“I think the new GOP reflected by Rand Paul’s willingness to challenge the status quo in both the Republican and Democratic parties, that’s a healthy thing,” said Kibbe in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” And young people in particular, they are looking for leadership that’s willing to challenge the idea that government is always right. 

Paul’s filibuster earlier this month, which raised due-process and constitutional questions about the administration’s use of armed drone strikes against American citizens, drew criticism from some GOP lawmakers.

Paul had asked the White House to clarify that the president did not have the authority to use drones to target Americans on U.S. soil. Attorney General Eric Holder sent Paul a letter after the 13-hour filibuster saying President Obama would not use such strikes against citizens who were not engaged in terrorist activity. 

But Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) criticized the filibuster saying that it raised “ridiculous” arguments.

Kibbe also said that the sequester cuts to defense would not undermine the GOP’s commitment to a strong defense.

“You can be fiscally responsible and tough on national security,” said Kibbe.

Many Republicans and the Obama administration have warned that the $85 billion in automatic cuts which took effect March 1 would have a devastating effect on defense programs.

But Kibbe said that even the Pentagon should be subject to belt-tightening. 

“On any budget, on any program, on any department of the federal government, lets’ all acknowledge that there’s waste and things that can be eliminated,” he said.

“A trimming of defense would be a very healthy thing,” Kibbe added. “You have to put everything on the table. You can’t say that this sacred cow cannot be touched. I think the GOP has made that mistake.”