By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE
But Mr. Beck aimed his fire at Republicans, too, giving them little quarter and saying he did not know what the party stood for. Mr. Beck, along with Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who led the Republican revolution in 1994, were among those who championed limited government and lower taxes at the three-day gathering of influential conservatives.
Mr. Beck, a recovering alcoholic, drew a parallel to addiction recovery programs and said that the Republican Party had to admit it was in trouble.
“Hello, my name is the Republican Party, and I have a problem!” he declared. “I’m addicted to spending and big government,” he said, drawing cheers from the audience in a ballroom of the hotel where the conference was held.
But both parties are to blame, he said. The Democrats tax and spend, while the Republicans just spend.
He also said people were losing a fundamental belief that things would get better.
“It is still morning in America,” he said. “It just happens to be kind of a head-pounding, hung-over, vomiting-for-four-hours kind of morning in America. And it’s shaping up to be kind of a nasty day. But it is still morning in America.”
Earlier in the day, Mr. Gingrich called for “principled bipartisanship” at a health care summit next Thursday at the White House with the Democrats — what he called the “secular socialist machine.”
Mr. Gingrich made a rock-star-like entrance, wading into the audience to the throbbing beat of the song “Eye of the Tiger,” a searchlight flashing across the crowd as he shook hands with well-wishers.
He predicted that the Democrats would lose the House and Senate in November and Mr. Obama would lose in 2012, undone by “the coming massive conservative majority.”
He said that the Democratic health care proposals — all 4,500 pages from the House and Senate combined — “are among the worst legislation” ever to emerge from Capitol Hill.
Mr. Obama should begin the summit by tossing out those bills and starting from scratch, Mr. Gingrich said, and Republicans should have the same amount of time that Democrats will have to present their views.
“Let’s test the president’s willingness to be bipartisan,” he said.
Unlike some of the other speakers who addressed the conference, Mr. Gingrich gave little hint of whether he planned to run for president in 2012. He has said that he would make up his mind by next February.
Other possible contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, including former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Representative Ron Paul of Texas, tested their own messages with the attendees.
Mr. Paul, who inspired an intense following when he ran for president in 2008, swept the conference’s presidential straw poll. With 31 percent of the nearly 2,400 votes cast, he finished ahead of Mr. Romney, who won the straw poll last year and captured 22 percent of the vote on Saturday.
Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, who did not attend the conference, was third, with 7 percent of the vote, and Mr. Pawlenty received 6 percent.
About half of the 10,000 people attending the conference are students, according to the poll.
Despite the suspense surrounding the poll, the results have rarely predicted the winner of the Republican nomination.
okay, so the new york times is supposedly the ~bastion of liberal media~ etc but you can totally tell they don't like glenn beck. i mean, that is the actual picture they chose for the article. it's so subtly catty and i love it. also, Ron Paul for president?