NASHVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 5, 2010— -- Nearly 600 conservative activists, ranging from the energized to the eclectic, have convened in Nashville, Tenn., for the first-ever National Tea Party Convention, angry at Democrats and Republicans alike.
The first night's speaker said the country "put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House," referring to the president by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, and launching a tirade against the "cult of multiculturalism" that led to his election.
"Thank God John McCain lost the election," Tancredo said, adding that a McCain presidency would have been a repeat of what he called "Bush 1 and Bush 2," with big budgets and a lackluster stand against illegal immigration.
The 2008 election served to galvanize the right and the people in the crowd at this convention, he said.
The "delegates" here are overwhelmingly white, generally on the high side of middle-age and universally, and very deeply, fearful that their freedoms are threatened, that their grandchildren will be saddled with an incalculable debt and that their nation's best days are behind it.
But the aggrieved attendees hope that their movement can reverse the trend and save America's heritage, and that they've now got the momentum they need to pull it off.
"They want to be able to pass the blessings of freedom along to their children and grandchildren," said Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, the sponsor of the three-day conference at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center. "That's why I'm here."
Tim Peak, a Phoenix charter school director, said, "I'm excited. It's the first time in a long time that I've had some hope for some kind of reversal in our national policies."