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Dick Armey: Massachusetts Result Not Unique


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block in Washington.


And in California, I'm Madeleine Brand.

It's a victory that could mean bad news for Democrats this election year. Republican Scott Brown beat Democrat Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate race yesterday. In a moment, we talk with President Obama's chief adviser, David Axelrod.

First, Republican Dick Armey. He was the House majority leader when President Clinton was in office. He now runs a lobbying group called FreedomWorks. It helped Scott Brown win in Massachusetts.

FreedomWorks is part of the conservative Tea Party movement. Armey says activists from that movement recognized Brown could win before the Republican Party did.

Mr. DICK ARMEY (Chairman, FreedomWorks; Former House Majority Leader): Well, of course, you know, the whole race has suffered from the folklore of Massachusetts, that you can't beat a Kennedy in Massachusetts, can't beat a Kennedy legacy in Massachusetts. I think the initial and clearly the lion share of the credit for this race has got to be Scott Brown himself - the nature of the race he ran. He was so energetic, enthusiastic in the race that the grassroots activists just came to respect him and they regarded him. And they sort of govern by a notion we call Armey's axiom: Hard work beats Daddy's money.

He wasn't going to Washington to bring in money. He was getting on the Internet. He was talking to people from Massachusetts. He was funding from local initiatives and he was matching every dollar's worth of money he got with his own effort on the ground. And folks said, you know, look, if he's willing to work that hard, we ought to work for him. So they really pitched in.

BRAND: A lot of people are saying that this race does not go well for the Democrats this election year and that come November they may suffer losses nationwide. How much truth do you give that? How much credence do you give that when you've just said yourself that a lot of it had to do with his personality?

Mr. ARMEY: Well, first of all, the Democrats have been getting a flow of information. They really ought to change the symbol of their party from the donkey to the - what is that bird that sticks its head in the ground? -ostrich.

BRAND: An ostrich.

Mr. ARMEY: Because, look, the anger at the Democrat Party, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barack Obama and the left-wing initiatives that they've taken on health care, the environment, banking and finance, the automobile takeover, the fact of the matter is we have seen the conservatives, small government activists change the face of Florida Senate election. They clearly delivered a victory in New Jersey in the governor's race.

So I mean, I don't see this as something unique and separate and different than what is going on across the country in races.

BRAND: Well, speaking of races across the country, where will you focus next? Where will the Tea Party movement focus next?

Mr. ARMEY: Well, obviously, you know, the grassroots activist always runs at the sound of the guns. When the guns were in upstate New York, we went up there. When they were in Florida, we got down there for the Rubio race.

What we're seeing now, as things are breaking so badly for the Democrats that they so mean-spiritedly, stubbornly refuse to listen to American people, that there are going to be more opportunities for more exciting races for small government conservative candidates to win and take a liberal government-controlled Democrat out of office. We're going to be spreading our troops quite thin. As wide as they are, as large and as many as they are, they're going to be kept busy in races clear across the country.

BRAND: Dick Armey, thank you very much.

Mr. ARMEY: Thank you, ma'am.

BRAND: That's former Republican Congressman Dick Armey. He runs the lobbying group FreedomWorks, which is affiliated with the Tea Party movement. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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