Tea Party convention's racial brouhaha: Obama won because Jim Crow-era law not on books - Tancredo
BY Brian Kates
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Originally Published:Friday, February 5th 2010, 10:48 AM
Updated: Friday, February 5th 2010, 11:13 AM
The opening speaker at the first National Tea Party Convention called President Obama a "committed Socialist ideologue" who was elected because "we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote."
"You have launched the counter-revolution," the speaker, former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), told 600 or so delegates of the grassroots movement assembled at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville Wednesday night. "It is our nation."
Tancredo also insisted on using Obama's middle name, Hussein, and said he was thankful Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona lost the 2008 presidential election because Obama has mobilized an uprising.
"People who could not even spell the word 'vote' or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House," he said.
Tancredo, a failed 2008 presidential candidate, made his reputation as a rabid foe of illegal immigrants. The literacy tests he pined for were once used in the South to keep blacks from voting.
Tea Party followers played a role getting out the vote for Republican Scott Brown, who last month took the Massachusetts Senate seat held for decades by Democratic liberal icon Ted Kennedy.
The group may prove crucial to Republicans seeking gains in November's congressional midterm elections.
Convention attendees paid $549 for access to two full days of events at the convention, set to culminate Saturday evening with a speech by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who reportedly was promised as much as $100,000 for the gig.
In an op-ed article in Wednesday's USA-Today, Palin said she would "not benefit financially" from the event, pledging to throw any compensation she would receive "right back to the cause."
But the high cost of event and the largess lavished on Palin have alienated many in the conservative grassroots movement.
Tea party activists "generally are not the type of people who would gravitate to some very expensive hotel to dine on lobster and steak and listen to someone speak," right-wing blogger Dan Riehl said Wednesday.
Convention spokesman Mark Skoda also acknowledged that Nashville defense attorney Judson Phillips and his wife Sherry Phillips, founders of the for-profit Tea Party Nation Inc., will also "make a few bucks" on the event.
But he fended off criticism like a true capitalist.
"Have we gone so far in the Obama-socialist view of the nation that 'profit' is a bad word -- in particular, if we're using it to advance the conservative cause?" Skoda asked.
Friday's planned sessions feature such titles as "Defeating Liberalism Via the Primary Process" and "Why Christians Must Engage."
Despite the conservative bent, ire aplenty was directed at both parties.
Tancredo rippped into McCain, saying the Arizona senator would have presided over big budgets and lacked a tough stand against illegal immigration.
"Thank God John McCain lost the election," Tancredo said.
Delegate William Temple from Georgia, who wore a kilt, said he wanted to work against "Republicans, Democrats and Independents who have been in Congress too many terms."
"We're sick of everyone," he said.
But Jim and Julie Dam, who drove five hours from Indianapolis to be at the convention, told ABC News they they are not interested in forming a third party.
"We want conservative Republicans," Jim Dam said.