Armey to GOP leaders: Get courageous

Armey to GOP leaders: Get courageous

One of the leaders of the Tea Party movement warned Sunday that Republicans could face as big
of an electoral backlash as Democrats if they don't "get some courage."

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), now the chairman of Freedomworks, a major backer of the Tea Party movement, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the modern Republican Party's lack of courage is a "big reason" for widespread frustration with both Democrats and Republicans.

Armey cited the GOP's distance from a controversial budget plan authored by Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanCutting critical family support won't solve the labor crisis Juan Williams: Trump's GOP descends into farce Now we know why Biden was afraid of a joint presser with Putin MORE (R-Wis.) as a prime example of what is behind the grassroots uprising known as the Tea Party movement and spoke of how that movement could spell trouble for both parties come November.

Ryan, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, has called for the partial privatization of Social Security and for health insurance vouchers instead of traditional Medicare benefits for Americans older than 55 as a way to reduce the long-term deficit. 

But Ryan's plan has been slow to pick up steam, as GOP leaders have kept their distance and only 13 Republicans in total have signed on as co-sponsors.

"The fact that he has only 13 co-sponsors is a big reason why our folks are agitated against the Republicans as well as the Democrats," said Armey, who called Ryan "probably the most creative-thinking and most courageous guy in Washington."

"The difference between being a cosponsor of Ryan and not is a thing called courage," Armey said. "And we have watched American public policy dominated by Democrats that don't care and Republicans that don't dare for a long time."

That, Armey said, could result in significant losses for Republicans as well as Democrats during the midterm elections.

"We're saying to the Republican Party, get some courage to stand up for the things that are right for this country. Don't stand there and hide from the issue because you're afraid of the politics," Armey said. "The issue of public policy that governs the future of my children is more important than your politics, and if you can't see that, we'll replace you."

Minutes before Armey's remarks, "Meet the Press" host David Gregory pressed Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate GOP blocks voting rights bill Schumer, McConnell spar as GOP prepares to block voting bill Trump has 'zero desire' to be Speaker, spokesman says MORE (R-Ky.) on why Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future" had such scant support among Republicans and no support among Republican leaders. McConnell repeatedly dodged the question.

At the same time, McConnell said the Tea Party's influence has been "entirely positive" for the GOP.

"It's an indication of broad public support for doing something about too much spending and too much debt. And this kind of genuine, popular uprising against excessive government spending, I think, has been extremely helpful. It's produced a lot of excitement in our primaries, and I think it's going to produce victories in November."

McConnell would not make a prediction on the number of Senate seats Republicans could pick up in November, but said "if the election were tomorrow, we'd have a very good day."

"I think irrational exuberance is not appropriate," McConnell said. "There's 70-some-odd days between now and the election. I'm optimistic."