When CNN asked him why he won't be attending the convention in Nashville this week, Armey called the convention a "different model" than the one used by his organization, Freedomworks, to organize their tea party rally Washington DC in September. "We'll see what happens with that model."
He told MSNBC:
The grassroots activists' movement for small government is the biggest, most diversified and most tolerant expression of commitment to public policy principles in this country. The fact is if those people in Tennessee want to try a different approach, we're perfectly happy to let them try. It will be interesting to see how it succeeds. But it is not our effort, not our concern.
In both appearances, Armey stressed the "diverse" nature of the tea party movement, and argued that no one person or group could claim to lead it. He told CNN:
If someone thinks they can get their arms around this and be in charge of it, I think they've maybe been to Michigan, smoking medical marijuana or whatever.
When asked about the relationship between tea partiers and the GOP, Armey said: "If the Republican Party gets back to being the party of Reagan, it'll be the party this movement can love."
Here's video from CNN: