Several conservative speakers attempted to whip up support for Republican candidates Sunday during the tea party movement’s march on Washington.
Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) declared that Republican primaries were a nationwide victory for the tea party movement and said Democrats will be its next conquest. “I believe we’ve gotten the Republican Party’s attention, because we’ve been beating the establishment all over the country,” said the chairman of FreedomWorks, which organized the event. “Now we’re going to the general election, and it’s time that we gave the same lessons to the other party.”
Dressed in his signature black cowboy boots and hat, Armey worked the crowd, signing autographs, shaking hands and posing for photographs on the Capitol’s West Front. The protest, dubbed the 9/12 Taxpayer March on Washington, was a call for smaller government and lower taxes, and other events were coordinated across the country. It was the second consecutive year that tea party activists converged in Washington on the day after the Sept. 11 anniversary, but this year’s turnout appeared smaller.
A takeover of Congress was a theme among the predominantly Republican crowd. Protest signs included, “Congress: You’re Fired,” and “Fight Organized Crime! Re-elect No One.” Armey said President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress have been spending and taxing far too much. “If we don’t get them under control, they’re going to wreck our country,” Armey said. “This November we must start making personnel changes in Washington.”
House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.), the only current Member to address the crowd, made no distinction between the tea party and the GOP, unlike Armey. Pence warned of the urgent nature of the midterm elections in November and asked the crowd to combat the “class warfare rhetoric of the American left.”
“If we do not succeed in November, all that once was good and great about this country could someday be gone,” Pence said. “The time has come to take our stand. We must not be afraid.”
Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, said the November elections will be a “hostile takeover” and said there is much work to be done if Republicans win the majority. “Nov. 3 is far more important than Nov. 2,” he said. “We have to build a community and we have to hold a whole new generation of politicians accountable.”