Tea Party book says McCain missed opportunity in 2008 to come out against TARP

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Arizona Sen. John McCain missed an opportunity during the 2008 presidential election to save his “sinking Republican ticket” when he supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) legislation, according to a new book on the Tea Party movement co-authored by former GOP leader Dick Armey that hits bookshelves today.

“It was, we believe, a unique opportunity for the sinking Republican ticket to revive its standing with the American people and distinguish itself from a discredited Republican establishment,” write Armey and co-author Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks, in “Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto.”

TARP called for the government in 2008 to purchase $700 billion in assets from troubled financial institutions — legislation that is often referred to as the impetus for the modern day Tea Party movement.

“But that didn’t happen,” they write of the Republican presidential candidate, “and the McCain campaign never recovered. Republicans were tarred with TARP, even though the entire Democratic leadership had carried the legislation, on their terms, to President Bush’s desk.”

Continuing, they write that, “It was an opportunity tailor-made for the Maverick to stand on good policy and political ground by taking on both Wall Street’s bad actors.”

A campaign spokesman for McCain — who is now running for re-election to the U.S. Senate in Arizona — did not immediately return a request for comment.

Armey and Kibbe also a make the argument in the book — contrary to what’s often reported in the media — that the Tea Party movement was not sparked by “sore-loser partisans opposed to President Obama’s agenda,” but had its roots in the prior administration.

“They’re wrong,” the authors write. “The government expansion during President George W. Bush’s reign provided the fuel. And it was his Wall Street bailout that ignited the firestorm we see today.”

Other topics broached in the book include dismissing the notion that the Tea Party movement could form into a third party or that its activists are motivated by race.

In addition to offering a history of the Tea Party movement — which burst onto the scene in the spring of 2009 — the book also includes an “activism tool kit” with advice for Tea Party organizers.

Jackie Bodnar, a spokeswoman at FreedomWorks, said the organization is officially launching the book Tuesday on NBC’s Today Show. She said Armey will also visit the set of Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show Tuesday to promote the book.