Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey tells Newsmax.TV that he believes it is possible — though unlikely — that GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum will win the party’s nomination if the convention goes to a second ballot in Tampa.
“I think, quite frankly, it is most likely that Gov. Romney will have the delegates when the convention opens, and win the nomination on the first ballot,” Armey said in an exclusive interview on Tuesday prior to Santorum’s double wins in Alabama and Mississippi. “If, in fact, he doesn’t, remember on the second ballot, it’s 100 percent up for grabs and it would seem to me that Rick has some possibility of winning on a second ballot. I just frankly do not expect it to get there.”
The Texas Republican, chairman of FreedomWorks and a patriarch of the tea party movement, said that the most-likely scenario is that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will lock up the GOP nomination on the first try.
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If Romney does secure the nomination, he may face a tough sell with voters on the notion that he opposes Obamacare, given his support for healthcare reform in Massachusetts.
“Well it strikes me that it would. I mean I’ve puzzled over this for a long time. I don’t know how Gov. Romney can go after President Obama on this,” declared Armey. “And this is a very, very, very big hot-button issue with the American people at large. It would be a real debilitation, I think, to Mitt Romney if he finds himself incapable of making a case because of his own record on this subject.”
Armey, who served in the House from 1985 to 2003 and is the co-author of “Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto,” accused Democrats of promoting election fraud by their continued opposition to voter ID laws such as the one in his Lone Star State.
“My own view is the Democratic Party has been largely invested in voter fraud for years and years — and anything that would make it more difficult for them to get the dead vote out, I think, obviously concerns them for their re-election chances.”
The Obama administration earlier this week blocked Texas’s new law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polls.
In a letter to state officials, the Justice Department claimed that the measure may disproportionately harm Hispanics. The department in December blocked a similar law in South Carolina and both Texas and South Carolina have filed suit in federal court in Washington seeking permission to enforce their photo ID requirements.
Armey said that he has always taken his driver’s license to the polls. “I’ve been voting in Texas for a lot of years and I’ve always brought my driver’s license with me, identified myself,” he insisted.
In the absence of voter ID requirements, there is nothing to prevent fraud. “What’s to stop me from walking in any number of different precincts and voting several times? It seems like such a simple thing to ask a voter to do, to present an ID card,” said Armey. “We do so for so many other things in life.”
Armey said he believes that the tea party will support the eventual GOP nominee — given the prospect of a second term for President Barack Obama, but the White House may not be its primary focus.
“My guess is the tea party is going to be active and enthusiastic in that race. But we’re going to stay more focused on the House and Senate races,” acknowledged Armey, who described Obama’s re-election as the “most frightening” possibility for tea partiers.
“But we also understand we’re not going to have a reliable innovative small-government conservative in the White House and therefore we’re focused on let’s get a conservative majority of creative people at the core in both the House and the Senate,” Armey said. “We set the legislative agenda through their energies and their creative thinking, and then we either fence a Republican president into that agenda, or we fence President Obama out because he could never subscribe to it.”
Armey said the House and Senate races are key to turning the country around.
“When we take a look at the success we had in getting to a balanced budget in the mid '90s, it was during the time when the legislative agenda was being driven by the House,” he recalled. “President Clinton saw the way the tide was moving and he got on board. For example, on welfare reform, even after vetoing it three times he then finally signed it. But when he retired from the presidency he said it was the best idea he had.”
While Clinton was able to embrace some conservative ideas for the good of the country, it’s not clear that Obama could — or would — do the same.
“Whether or not Barack Obama can get to where President Clinton got to, I don’t know, but the fact of the matter is whether it’s President Clinton or President Barack Obama in the White House — or a more, let’s just say, orthodox Republican, not so reliably small government conservative Republican — it’s very important that the legislative agenda [is set] in the House and Senate as it was in the early '90s.”
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