Dick Armey: Rand Paul Made ‘Rookie Mistake’ Going On Maddow

June 16, 2010 9:03 a.m.

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey told reporters today that Senate candidate Rand Paul is an “amateur” who made two big mistakes — appearing on Rachel Maddow’s show and declaring himself as a leader of the tea party movement.

“Rand Paul made an amateur, freshman, rookie mistake — he thought MSNBC was a legitimate news organization,” Armey said at a lunch today hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “These are not professional people. … Bless his heart, he walked right into a buzzsaw.”TPM asked Armey if he’d advise candidates to only appear on Fox News, and he said many Republicans are “quite comfortable” on Fox, which they find to be more accurate and reliable. Armey (R-TX), co chairman of Freedom Works, said he would have advised Paul not to go on Maddow’s show — an appearance that earned him days of negative headlines for questioning the constitutionality of portions of the Civil Rights Act. Armey said Maddow and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann are not legitimate or honest, calling them “political hacks.”

“Olbermann has never gotten over the Americans beating the Russians in 1980,” Armey said. “Don’t tell me he’s a news person.”

TPM followed up on Armey saying that Paul “should have known better” than to appear on Maddow, since Paul had announced his Senate bid on her show. Armey said the candidate still was mistaken to do the interview, given Maddow’s liberal leanings. He said it was “perfectly appropriate” for Paul to question the constitutionality of any legislation but instead the Maddow interview earned Paul “a bum rap.”

“I’ve been bushwhacked, that’s life,” Armey said. “This is going to happen to a lot of people.” His prediction is that Paul won’t be damaged by the gaffe since it’s so early in the election season.

However, Armey also said Paul’s tea party declaration was a “double down” on the reasons the national media already “hated” him. At the same time, Armey says, tea partiers are “wary and suspicious” of anyone who has held public office.

Armey described Freedom Works as a “mentoring organization” for tea party activists, and touted his forth coming book on the movement, “Give Us Liberty.” He said the tea party is the only movement in politics “with any sense of purpose.”

Late Update: Olbermann responds, telling TPMDC in an email:

Mr Armey is, as ever, perfectly, wonderfully tone deaf. I actually attended the USA upset of the USSR in Lake Placid in 1980 and it remains one of the most joyous memories of my life as a proud American. I also wonder about why Mr Armey so happily took money to appear on my show during his days as a paid MSNBC contributor. But lastly I’d like to congratulate him on once again living up to his nearly onomatopoeic name “Dick Armey.”

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