Searchlight, Nevada, is a remote town with only about 700 people — only really known for being the home town of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). But over the weekend it became the destination of choice for thousands of Tea Party activists, who descended on the town to protest Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Obama, health care reform and the rest of the Democrats’ agenda.
The event was a kickoff for a national tour of the “Tea Party Express” bus, a project of the Our Country Deserves Better PAC. The organizers selected the hometown of the Senate Majority Leader to show off their opposition to the Dem agenda. Speakers included Andrew Breitbart, Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher, talk radio host Mark Williams, and Saturday Night Live alumnus Victoria Jackson.
The star attraction, however, was Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican nominee for vice president and a huge favorite of conservative activists. Palin slammed Reid for “gambling away our future” — a topical reference in a gambling-heavy state. “Someone needs to tell him, this is not a crapshoot,” Palin added.Palin also repeated her refrain against President Obama, depicting him as weak on national security: “In these volatile times when we are a nation at war, now more than ever is when we need a commander-in-chief, not a constitutional law professor lecturing us from a lectern.”
So how many people arrived? During the event itself, according to a video from the Las Vegas Sun, a woman on stage can be heard claiming that 20,000 people had arrived — though other estimates are much lower. The Associated Press estimates the crowd size as having been “at least 9,000 people.” Tea Party Express, the group that organized the rally, places the estimate slightly higher than the AP does, but not by all that much. “We are comfortable with saying 10-15,000 people,” Tea Party Express spokesman Levi Russell told TPMDC.
Tea Party Express is also claiming that violence occurred at the event — from a crowd of Harry Reid supporters, who they allege threw eggs at a Tea Party Express bus that was en route to the event. When asked whether he has any photo or video documentation, Russell said he did not. “I was on the bus, I saw it with my own eyes, and Andrew Breitbart saw it with his own eyes,” said Russell. “So we’ve got two credible sources that are eyewitnesses.”
Russell claimed that Tea Party activists in Washington had been able to clear their name against accusations of racist and anti-gay language against Democratic members of Congress this past weekend, and called upon Reid’s supporters to do the same. “What I would ask is, for the Harry Reid supporters to clear their good names, show that they really are classy people,” said Russell. “If they want to counter this, produce the video just like all the tea partiers did, that shows it didn’t happen, which they can’t do.”
Here is Palin’s speech:
And here is a news clip of what Harry Reid did over the weekend — campaigning in Las Vegas with the National Rifle Association, showing his marksmanship at a shooting range: