Beck Rally Attendees Say Tea Party Misunderstood

August 29, 2010 9:52 a.m.

Members of the Tea Party are misunderstood, those in attendance for Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally yesterday told TPM in interviews.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Glenn Beck’s ‘Restoring Honor’ Rally Showcases Who’s Beckistan?]

Willie Wood of Dunbar, N.C. told TPM she and her family — sprawled out to the left of the stage on lawn chairs — came to the rally to honor her country and to see Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin because “they stand for freedom.” She is hopeful Republicans will take back the House in November. Her biggest issues are jobs, security, taxes and the national debt.Lynn, a Florida resident who works for a title insurance company, took a bus for 16 hours to make it to the rally. She said Beck was “absolutely” continuing in the tradition of Martin Luther King, and the movement was “beyond any color lines or anything like that.” She said the movement has been unfairly characterized.

“You’re always going to have some bad people in it,” she said. “But it’s basically very calm. You see a few t-shirts that are inappropriate.”

A man dressed as if he was from the colonial era who identified himself as George Washington said he was there because Aug. 28 was “a day for America.”

Washington said Beck’s views were “quite close” to the ideals of the founding fathers, though some things were different from the time when the country was founded. “I’m having trouble understanding how women can show their ankles,” the man said.

A man dressed as Abraham Lincoln disagreed. “I think this looks like the early stages of fascism throughout history,” he said.

But those who traveled several hours to see the conservative speakers said their movement has been unfairly branded in the media.

“The Tea Party is being misunderstood. TEA stands for ‘taxed enough already.’ There’s nothing cynical about it, there’s nothing ethnically charged about it,” said Frank from South Carolina. “As for where Martin Luther King would stand today, I think he would stand along besides Glenn Beck and his beliefs. He was a minister, and Glenn Beck is very religious, and I really think they would be standing side by side in their beliefs.”

There were those in the crowd who believe some of the myths that other members of the Tea Party say give their movement a bad name.

Carolyn Cassaberry of Newport News, Va. said she wasn’t sure if Obama was born in the U.S. and said she had heard he was a Muslim. “There are a lot of people that’s talking that, and until I’ve got documentation and proof of it, I would never say that I believe that, but there’s a lot of people that’s talking that,” Cassaberry said.

Grassroots groups used the event to gather support for their cause.

Steve Armbruster of “Get Out of Our House” said he came out to the rally because there were patriotic Americans who he thought would be interested in his group, which seeks to remove all the sitting members of Congress — Republicans and Democrats.

“It’s time to put real honest people in who know what the Constitution says and will abide by it,” Armbruster said.

Other interest groups typically more aligned with Democrats also used the rally to gather support for their cause.

D.C. Vote, a group advocating for representation in the House of Representatives for the District of Columbia, had volunteers calling out “end taxation without representation in our nation’s capital” as they passing out fliers at the event.

“The Tea Party is very supportive of local government, local issues, so supporting D.C.’s right for local legislative autonomy and representation in the federal government is a perfect fit, so we hope they’ll have their support,” said Leah Ramsey, director of D.C. Vote.

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