Well, I have finally found some time to write Part 2 of my 2 part series on my trip to the National TEA Party Convention (click here to read Part 1). Where do I begin…
I arrived at the Convention a day late. Festivities officially kicked off on Thursday night with a banquet and speech by Tom Tancredo. I was very disappointed that I missed my 2nd favorite 2008 Republican Presidential candidate, but I stopped in Jackson, TN to have dinner with some old friends and simply could not get there in time. But don’t worry–Friday was full of surprises.
I spent about half an hour Friday morning wandering around the Opry, wondering if I had woken up at Wonka’s factory. Or perhaps Sea Haven. Once I finally made my way to the TEA Party section of the park, I was immediately asked for an interview with one of NBC’s New York affiliates. The cameraman was working alone and could not have been nicer–at first. He asked me several general questions about where I was from, how long I had been involved in the TEA Party, etc. Then all at once he snapped and began interrogating me. “Are you really a tea partier or did you just come here to see Sarah Palin?” “Sarah Palin wants to start a third party–do you support that?” “You know, there has been a lot of scandal surrounding this event–why didn’t Sarah Palin back out?” And my favorite: “How do you feel about the bank bailouts? Did you know that Sarah Palin voted for the bailouts?” I guess you could say that last question was my breaking point. Of course Sarah Palin did not vote for the bailouts–she was not and has never been a voting member of Congress. I let him have it. I guess you could say I gave him a civics lesson. To this day I cannot decide if he was really that ignorant or if he was testing my knowledge. I suppose I will never know. Needless to say, I was not quite the hapless, brainless Palin follower that he was hoping to capture for the 5 o’clock news. I don’t think my interview ever aired.
The media was vicious all weekend. Most of the attendees were senior citizens and the reporters absolutely preyed on them. I was very impressed, however, with the resolve and the knowledge of these people. I would often stop in between sessions and stand behind a reporter who was interrogating a nice couple. These people were armed with the facts and they were more than prepared for the media’s playbook. I was constantly amazed at their resolve and determination.
After breakfast and our first workshop, I ran into the one, the only Tom Tancredo. Oh yes. He was still in the house and he was being bombarded by the press, including CNN’s John Avlon, about comments he made at the banquet on Thursday night. I waited around until all of the drive-bys got their shots in, and then I spent about five minutes chatting one-on-one with Mr. Tancredo. Of course I told him I was from Arkansas and he has…very strong opinions about our former governor who also ran for president in 2008. He said, “I’m looking for someone who has a conversion on the Road to Damascus, not the road to Des Moines.” I told him I remembered that line from one of the GOP debates (I watched them religiously) and he yelled, “OH! SOMEONE REMEMBERS! I’M SO GLAD!” We continued, rehashing our favorite moments of the 2008 primary. I told him my favorite part of the entire primary season was his “Jack Bauer line” from the South Carolina debate. The question was regarding a nuclear threat and McCain had given a sissy answer about how we don’t torture, etc. Tancredo piped up and said:
He again exclaimed, “I’M SO GLAD SOMEONE REMEMBERS THAT LINE!” Tom said McCain was mad at him for the rest of the primary–I told him it was evident throughout the rest of the debates and he agreed. We shared our mutual distaste for John McCain’s pseudo-conservatism. Then I asked the Congressman if he will be running for President again. He said, “If someone else qualified runs, I will not. But if no legitimate conservatives step up, I will.” Remember, you heard it here first.
The visit with Tancredo was certainly the highlight of my trip. He was one of my favorite candidates in 2008 and I have a great deal of respect for him. I hope to see him back in the game very soon.
The weekend was filled with stories like these; too many to share here. Over the course of 2 days, I also met Carl Cameron of FOX News, Judge Roy Moore, Angela McGlowan, Andrew Breitbart, and oh, John McCain’s twin (the picture doesn’t do it justice):
And in case you wondering, yes, I did like him much more than the real McCain. This man is much more conservative.
The Palin event was very exciting to say the least. Here is my brief video of Andrew Breitbart’s introductory comments and the Governor’s opening remarks (the video is shaky but the audio is great–minus my occasional outbursts):
I had great company at the Palin banquet. To my left was a yankee from New York City. She lives about a block from the World Trade Center site. Her retelling of 9/11/2001 was very emotional and really put things into perspective before Governor Palin took the stage. To my right was Mr. James Brody, a psychologist from Valley Forge, PA and an avid blogger at “Dead Cats and Clippings.” He gave me an acorn from Valley Forge and said, “Here. Now you have an acorn from Valley Forge.” I will never forget him.
And of course Palin’s remarks were inspiring as always.
The Convention was one of the most surreal and amazing events I have ever experienced. I am very thankful to my grandparents who sponsored me and sent me on this trip. And I will never forget all of these patriots I met who, at the time of her great need, rose up to fight for America.