ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: We asked former House majority leader Dick Armey, whose FreedomWorks organization has helped stir up some of the more vocal "tea party" protests of the past few months, whether some of the rhetoric has gotten out of hand.
Specifically, did House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, cross a line when he called the health care bill "the greatest threat to freedom that I've seen in the 19 years I've been in Washington"?
No way, Armey told us on ABCNews.com's "Top Line" today: "I was there before John Boehner. It's the greatest threat to individual liberty I've seen in my time," said Armey, R-Texas.
"If you find your personal liberty precious, if you understand the best decisions in commerce and production and distribution and product is decisions made in the private sector, then you find it very tyrannical to have a government dictate to you: 'You must buy this product, as I specify, this product, at the price I set for this product. If you don't do so you will be subject to even criminal sanctions and jail sentences, severe fines and penalties,'" he said.
"The Pointer Sisters had a great point about the song 'Mr. Big Shot, Who Do You Think You Are?' I mean, where the government gets off telling me what I must buy, where I must buy it, what its dimensions or specifications must be, and what price to pay — who do they think they are?"
Asked if there's room in the party for moderate Republicans — such as Senate candidates Charlie Crist, R-Fla., Carly Fiorina, R-Calif., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., all of whom are mistrusted by conservatives — Armey said:
"People who seek high office, who think the stimulus package was a good thing, endorse such trespasses against past privacy rights as card-check and so forth, are people that we think will be counterproductive to our prosperity to our safety and security and rights as citizens — irrespective of party."