From Face the Nation, FreedomWorks' Dick Armey claims that the GOP's purity resolution is not a litmus test for candidates. Sure looks like one to me
November 30, 2009

From Face the Nation, FreedomWorks' Dick Armey claims that the GOP's purity resolution is not a litmus test for candidates. Sure looks like one to me Dick. I'm not sure what else you'd call it when you're using it to purge moderates from the Republican Party. Steve Singiser at DailyKOS has a post up on how this push to the right could end up being good for Democrats in the 2010--On Party Purity and Eleventh Commandments.

SMITH: The headlines out of the GOP this week, this notion, the Republican National Committee considering a list of 10 principles. Some have called them the GOP 10 commandments, which include things like support for the surge in Afghanistan or opposition, for instance, to the Obama health plan.

As a candidate, if you agree with the eight out of 10 -- with eight out of 10, you’ll get support from the national GOP, and if you don’t, you’re out of luck.

Dick Armey, is this litmus test a good idea?

ARMEY: First of all, it’s not a litmus test. Secondly, it is being offered for consideration in the party.

SMITH: Right.

ARMEY: And I think, thirdly, it is seven out of the 10. But if you -- if you read the list, at least five of the 10 are right at the center stage -- center post of the big 10 of American politics today, fiscal conservatism.

I think it’s -- if the Republican Party is going to win any future elections, it has to be presented as an alternative to the Democrat Party’s fiscal spending. And -- and in fact, it’s a very reasonable thing to say, if you want the support of the Republican Party, demonstrate some allegiance to the primary positions taken by the party.

That’s not a litmus test. That’s just saying, if you want us to give you our money, our support, our -- our troops in the field, our endorsements, then demonstrate that you’re someone like us.


SMITH: Let me ask Dede a question. Have you had a chance to see this list.


SMITH: And would you have been able to at least agree on seven or eight out of 10?

SCOZZAFAVA: I would have been at seven out of 10 on the list. I had the opportunity the review the list this past week. I would have been at seven out of 10. If people looked at my record and understood how I felt about a lot of the federal issues, I think they could see that I was for lower taxes, lower government spending. I was not in favor of repeal of the 2003 tax cuts. I am not in favor of an estate tax. There were many things in that platform that I would be OK with. And if you look at the “Syracuse Post Standard” and the editorial review board that I went through in Syracuse, and you read the editorial conclusion, you could see they arrived at the conclusion that I was a fiscal conservative. And that’s after a two-hour editorial board.

SMITH: Right. At the same time...

SCOZZAFAVA: Cap and trade.

SMITH: Which is also on that list to oppose, cap and trade.

SCOZZAFAVA: Right which I would have been a no on cap and trade. I would have been a no on the health care bill as it’s currently presented.

SMITH: Yet a conservative insurgent in your district, you ended up ceding the nomination to him. Is this kind of a list a do or die list in the end counterproductive because in your district, in the 23rd district, which I’m familiar with, if somebody would have suggest add year ago a Democrat would have been elected there, they would have been laughed at. There’s a Democrat who’s going to Congress now.

SCOZZAFAVA: Well, I think you’ve got to look at the predecessor. John McHugh’s served this district very well. He was a moderate. Some of the positions that I got criticized for taking were positions that John already had. I think it’s important that sometimes there are regional differences even as Mr. Armey represented Texas. There are certain things that he voted against that are right on the litmus test, the 10 steps.

So I think there’s got to be some understanding. The most important thing we can do as Republicans I think and the leadership can do as Republicans are driving a message that brings us together. I absolutely agree with Mr. Gillespie when we talk about things like fiscal conservatism, lower taxes, less government spending, the pocketbook issues are the things that are most important to people today.

SMITH: Mr. Armey, did it work, the push by conservatives, to try to seize control by the people to seize control which is a sort of one of the ideas of the tea party movement. Did it work in the 23rd district?

ARMEY: Actually what happened in the 23rd district was the Republicans lost that race when they nominated Dede. And my activists on the ground contacted me and said that. The conservative party stayed out of the race until they saw that despite the fact that she has the full and enthusiastic and generous support of the Republican Party, she was losing the race.

She was already clearly falling, dropping like a brick, before the conservative candidate got in the race. So the fact of the matter was even the Democrat was running against her as a big spender. She was a bad fit for that race. Had there been an electoral primary process, she wouldn’t have won the primary. She wouldn’t have been the candidate. And the Republican would win the race.

That’s what I predict will happen in the fall. Probably the most heartbreaking thing of that event was as she found herself falling so far, so fast despite all the support she had, when she dropped out, she endorsed the Democrat. That makes it very difficult for her to come back in this primary that will be opening up for next year and saying I want to run as a Republican. I think she burned a bridge there that will probably not be one that can be rebuilt even with massive federal funds.


SMITH: Dick Armey, some people suggest that the Republicans are fighting a demographic battle that they can’t win. That this is going to end up being exclusionary and you’ll end up in a position of not being able to take back the seats you want to take back in this next year.

ARMEY: I don’t think that’s true at all. In fact, the party that responds to the energy that is found in the public -- and right now that energy is found in the small government conservative movement that is looking at some sense of fiscal responsibility. That party that captures their attention will be the party that will win massive terms.

I think the Republican Party is in a great position. Look at the more moderate Republican that won the governorship in New Jersey on a margin of votes provided by the small government conservatives who abandoned their candidate for him because he had a chance to win.

Watch Governor Castle as he runs for the Senate. There is plenty of room for the more moderate people to win elections if they fit their district. But if in fact you nominate a person who can’t win in their district, then you should expect that person will lose the election.

SMITH: Dede, let me ask you this question. Do you think you were too moderate?

SCOZZAFAVA: Sure -- no, I don’t. And to Mr. Armey’s point, I was up by 7 percentage points mid-October. And there was a lot of Washington that all of a sudden -- and the Club for Growth, and the right side of the party that all of a sudden flooded the market, distorted my record, and was very difficult to counter that.

I think it was very difficult for leadership at the RNC not to cave in to the pressures that they were receiving from the right. Listen, at the end of the day, I know my record. I know my district. I’ve worked closely with John McHugh. And it’s unfortunate what happened. And at the end of the day I think I made the decision that was best for the assembly district that I represent, the constituents that I represent here, and the importance of Fort Drum to this area.

I would hope -- in the end, I hope what we can have is an inclusive Republican Party that’s focused on fiscal principles. And I’m hopeful that we can do that.

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