As Tea Party activists and other conservatives began converging on Washington, D.C. for Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally, the war of words between liberals and conservatives continued to broil.
The rally at the National Mall, has attracted more than 100,000 people gathering to see speeches by both Beck and Sarah Palin. Security was beefed up amid concerns of a clash because Beck's rally coincides with the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King's speech, to be commemorated by various marches and rallies on the capitol.
Beck has shunned criticism from some civil rights leaders that holding his rally on this historic day tarnishes King's legacy. Beck has stated that the rally will be non-political and focusing on honoring America's troops. But for many attendees, the rally was all about politics
Nancy and Tom Mistele came from Wisconsin to attend Beck's rally and events surrounding it. The two say they came because they haven't earned a paycheck since 2006 and are afraid that Americans are losing their freedom and their country.
"I believe slowly, our rights are being taken away little by little," Tom Mistele said. "A lot of it's already been lost, but it's not lost permanently. We can get it back."
Cody Smith, an 18-year-old high school student from Indiana, believes passionately that the U.S. government should be stopped from moving toward socialism.
"We're here because we think our nation needs to get back to the principles of liberty that our founders gave us," he said. The rally is "going to be just historic. It's going to be us standing up and showing people that we're not the racist bigots that the media portrays us to be but that we love freedom, we love people and we want to show people that freedom is really the best way to go."
Civil rights leader Al Sharpton, who is holding a "Reclaim the Dream" march today, berated Beck for hosting the rally on the anniversary of the historic civil rights march.
"Dr. King is not owned by blacks. But we can't have different opinions of Dr. King's speech," civil rights activist Al Sharpton said at a press conference today. "They're having an anti-government march on a day King came to appeal to the government. You can't have it both ways."
Sharpton challenged Beck to come to Dunbar high school, the starting point of his rally.
"Maybe Glenn, if you read the speech you'd be over at Dunbar talking about equality rather than distorting it at the Lincoln memorial," Sharpton said. "You've got the right place wrong speech."
For a rally that's not meant to be about politics, it is all about politics.
Democrats and Republicans alike today took turns taking stabs at each other and projecting confidence that their own side will prevail in November's mid-term elections.
Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, criticized Beck's rally as "blatantly political," and predicts voters in swing districts will be turned off by "outrageous rhetoric on the right," which he characterized as ranting conspiracy theories.
"Congressional Republicans inside the beltway are already popping the champagne bottles, saying that they're going to seize control of United States Congress. It is a premature celebration," Van Hollen said.