Tea party organizer wants Romney specifics: ‘We’re trying to figure out what he’s for’

Chris Moody
August 28, 2012

TAMPA -- The details of Mitt Romney's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention are still secret, but when the candidate takes the stage on Thursday night, FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe wants to hear one thing: Policy details.

"We're trying to figure out what he's for," Kibbe told Yahoo News in an interview here on Tuesday. "There's a lot of talk about Romney's need to connect with people, but what we're looking for is substance. This isn't a beauty contest. We're looking for someone that actually stands for something, and we're hoping to see some substantial policy in the speech as well as an ability to connect with people."

Kibbe said that Romney should make it clear how he would differentiate himself from President Barack Obama, particularly on financial regulation.

"I'd like to hear some specifics," he said.

FreedomWorks, one of the nation's most prominent tea party groups, took a long time to come around for Romney -- or, rather, to drop their opposition. The group actively opposed Romney's candidacy during the Republican primaries, and even organized a demonstration when Romney spoke to a tea party rally in New Hampshire last year. The announcement for that event on the FreedomWorks website called Romney "an establishment hack" with a record that "represents everything the tea party stands against."

Once it was clear that Romney would secure the party's nomination, FreedomWorks leaders still avoided a full-throated endorsement, but a spokesman said the group was "dedicated to defeating Obama."

On Tuesday, Kibbe said that he was encouraged by Romney's decision to choose Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, and that while Romney was still vague about his views, the choice offered hints about how he might govern.

"I think you're seeing some more more substance coming from the Republican ticket with the selection of Ryan," Kibbe said. "There's a better sense for what these guys would actually do should they win the election."