With a goal of retaking the Senate, keeping the House and sending President Barack Obama packing, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey tells Newsmax.TV that conservatives must zero in on issues like high gasoline prices to win in 2012.
He said super PACs like his organization’s FreedomWorks for America will almost certainly make those 2012 issues the focus in races against Democrats.
The Texas Republican, who chairs FreedomWorks, said in an exclusive interview on Tuesday that conservatives should point out that the high gas prices — which some experts say could reach $5 a gallon this summer — are buoyed by a combination of excessive restrictions imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and bad decisions like Democratic opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline project.
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“It seems to me the first thing you can do is take a look at the excessive EPA restrictions on capacity, particularly refining capacity,” said Armey, who served in the House from 1985 to 2003.
“Obviously the pipeline that he killed, not only does it diminish our ability to have gasoline, but here we put the Canadians — our best friends in the world — in a terrible bind. They want to sell that oil to the United States and they’re being almost forced by this administration to sell to China. It doesn’t make sense.”
Another factor is diminished refining capacity in the United States, according to Armey.
“We can’t just move that oil from Canada to here — even if we get President Obama past whatever is his myopia on that subject,” he said. “We still have to look at refining capabilities, and I think the current administration is perfectly willing to let their conditions deteriorate and even obsolescence set in, or even see them shut down.”
Co-author of “Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto,” Armey insisted that the bulk of any oil brought to the Lone Star state from the Keystone project would stay in the United States despite claims to the contrary by some critics.
“Clearly, we’re a net importer of oil. Why would we be shipping it abroad,” he said. “I think there are some small instances where the refined gasoline is shipped abroad because, quite frankly, refinery capabilities are very difficult to come by. But I can promise you that if that oil gets refined in Texas, the lion’s share of it will be consumed in this country — by far, the lion’s share.”
He said that liberals tend to wield EPA regulations like a sword. “That’s always because they are a bunch of eco hypochondriacs and they think the environment is much more sick than it really is,” he explained.
Unlike some other PACs, Armey said that FreedomWorks for America does not give money directly to campaigns. It is also spending less money on television advertising this election cycle while focusing instead on more targeted efforts such as direct mail, smartphones, and the Internet.
“The money is used to outfit, equip, supply our activists in the field and we stay focused that way,” according to Armey.
“We really believe that in the end, hard work beats daddy’s money. It is a healthier way to campaign with more boots on the ground — hand-to-hand personal contact, more targeting instruments than for example TV which is not a very well-targeted instrument.”
He said that his organization has embraced technology to woo voters. “We’re probably at the cutting edge in conservative circles on innovations in the Internet. Now we have a new smartphone technology that we’re deploying that will help them identify those super voters that we’re looking for,” he said.
The technology empowers activists to find registered Republican “super voters” near them, map out walking directions, and download a script to encourage them to vote for a particular candidate.
Armey said that candidates have to meet certain criteria to be considered for support. “The first criteria is they have to be a reliable and an innovative small-government conservative. We like to use the term constitutionally limited, small-government conservative, and we will always go for that kind of person first,” he said.
The organization also has expectations for candidates once they get elected.
“We expect them, once they win the privilege of serving in these high offices, to really be creative and do something — move legislation and work hard in the legislative process,” he said. “That’s a big upgrade over the relatively nominal expectations to which politicians have been held in the past.”
With a jobless rate still hovering between 8 and 9 percent, Armey believes that President Barack Obama must be accountable for his failed economic policies.
“The president has just demonstrated himself — and for the most part his whole administration — to be clumsily ineffectively tied to ideas that don’t work and he won’t give up on those ideas,” declared Armey, a former economics professor.
“I was just looking at the unemployment numbers today. It seems to me those are some roughly 8 million people that have a reason to look for someplace else,” he added. “Certainly this president does not understand the imperative that the job growth come from the private sector.”
Armey pointed to what he sees as a pattern among the past three generations of “big government liberals” that don’t favor private sector economic growth.
“The reason they don’t is if we grow in the private sector as we did in the '80s, it demonstrates a diminished need for government intervention in the economy, particularly on income redistribution which is of course what they perceive as their sacred mission,” he explained.
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