Kristina Ribali, the New Media Director for FreedomWorks, detailed briefly the history of the organziation that really began in the 1980s as a think tank. Ribali states that it’s now a “do” tank with Steve Forbes, Matt Kibbe, and Dick Armey leading the charge in the fight for limited government and economic freedom. Dick Armey, the former House Majority Leader, and Steve Forbes, CEO of Forbes, Inc., were key figures that started the national discussion of introducing a flat tax to replace our current system of obtaining revenue.
However, while her presentation at Smart Girl Summit did focus on the various branches of the organization, she was adamant that we need to retake the senate in order to repeal Obamacare. This is the critical battle in 2012. So far, forty-seven senators have vowed to repeal the law, which means we need four more to ensure its death. Ribali warned about breaks in the ranks that come from the more moderate members of the Republican Party who need to be taken out by primary challengers to make sure the conservative cause is not compromised. She gave an example with the recent ouster of Dick Lugar of Indiana, who was a thirty-six year incumbent and outspent FreedomWorks-backed Richard Mourdock 8 to 1, but got curb stomped in the primary 60.5%-39.5%. The reason was simple. Richard Lugar had lost touch with the community and the grassroots support for him was conspicuously absent. In Utah, FreedomWorks challenged incumbent Orrin Hatch and the organization took flak for this move. However, Ribali responded to the criticism by saying she’d rather be lonely than sell sold out to the Republican establishment.
This whole episode in Indiana reflects what the President and CEO of FreedomWorks, Matt Kibbe, states often which is “sometimes we have to defeat the Republicans first, before we beat the Democrats.” In the Q &A portion, Ribali continued on this narrative stating “who held up school choice in Pennsylvania? It wasn’t the Democrats, but squishy Republicans.” Pennsylvania is one of the key battleground states in this year’s election cycle and after a chaotic senate primary to decide who will challenge Bob Casey, Tom Smith emerged victorious. A woman in the audience was skeptical of him and asked Kristina what to do concerning lending support. When she stated that he pledged to vote to repeal Obamacare, Ribali replied that Smith’s promise is all that mattered in terms of endorsement. In the fight to overturn the most egregious infringement on individual freedom, a promise to repeal Obamacare is a critical part of the litmus test for conservatives running for office in this year.
She concluded with informing the audience that a politician’s greatest fear is losing re-election. We need to own that fear and let people we send to Washington know we’re serious about our concerns and we will hold them accountable every election year.