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*** UPDATED x2 - COMMENTS NOW OPEN - Palin wins straw poll *** Was the tea cup half full or half empty last night?

Sunday, Sep 19, 2010

* The first rule of organizing is to pack too many people into too small of a room. The Sears Center in Hoffman Estates holds 10,000 people. But Right Nation 2010 organizers said only 5,500 tickets were sold. Conservative blogger Warner Todd Huston estimated attendance last night at
just 3,000

I e-mailed a reporter friend of mine who was there to ask him how the attendance looked inside and he responded: “Lots of empty seats.” So, I asked him if he could snap a photo of the crowd. Here’s his response via e-mail…

No pictures of the audience allowed or credentials revoked and you are escorted out. My blackberry wouldn’t be able to get it in the dark here and my photog just told me he didn’t want to get thrown out.

Kinda harsh.

The reporters didn’t seem to react unkindly to that silly rule, however. Media coverage ignored the empty seats and focused on the event itself and the protest outside. Here’s a roundup…

* Bill Brady’s schedule changed late Friday and he was able to speak after all

“We’re doing well in the polls, but we want you to think we’re down,” Brady said, before referencing Chicago’s history of vote fraud. “There’s one city that might steal four or five points from me on the night before the election. . . . We need your help.”

* Brady’s entire speech

* Andrew Breitbart had it out with protesters before the event began

[Breitbart] screamed that they must be union members who had been duped into protesting.

“Do you even know what you’re protesting?” he shouted. “Who’s with SEIU [Service Employees International Union]? What union are you with?”

Breitbart rejected the protesters’ claims that they came from various religious organizations. He pointed to an anti-Beck sign with a union bug on the bottom.

Challenging one man carrying a “Beck lies’’ sign, Breitbart said: “Name me one lie he’s told.” “Probably hundreds,” the man responded.

“How is Beck a coward?” he challenged another protester with a “Beck=Coward” sign. The protester did not answer.

* Video of Breitbart and the protesters

* Breitbart: We Must Circumvent Mainstream Media

* Glenn Beck delivered the keynote address

“We are 40 days from fundamentally changing America,'’ Beck said. “. . . What the Tea Party movement wants is an end to out-of-control spending, an end to the insanity, an end to the growth in government that is gobbling everything up.'’

He also ridiculed first lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to get people to eat healthier snacks like apples or carrots.

“Get away from my french fries, Mrs. Obama,” Beck warned. “First politician that comes up to me with a carrot stick, I’ve got a place for it. And it’s not in my tummy.”

* Glenn Beck: Is the American Experiment Over?

*** UPDATE 1 *** Comments are now open. Sorry. I meant to open them up right away this morning and forgot.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Sarah Palin won the event’s straw poll

1. Sarah Palin – 323 votes (19.1%)
2. Chris Christie – 274 votes (16.2%)
3. Newt Gingrich – 227 votes (13.4%)
4. Herman Cain – 201 votes (11.9%)
5. Mitt Romney – 190 votes (11.2%)
6. Mike Huckabee – 156 votes (9.2%)
7. Ron Paul – 78 votes (4.6%)
8. Mitch Daniels – 76 votes (4.5%)
9. Tim Pawlenty – 68 votes (4.0%)
10. Mike Pence – 45 votes (2.7%)
11. Rudy Giuliani – 33 votes (1.9%)
12. Haley Barbour – 22 votes (1.3%)

* Related…

* ABC7: Thousands attend Glenn Beck rally in suburbs

* Fox Chicago: Glenn Beck Headlines Right Nation 2010

* Rich Santelli’s ‘09 CNBC rant against mortgage bailouts for ‘losers’ ignited the Tea Party movement

* Who is the Tea Party? 54 percent say they are Republicans; 41 percent call themselves independents; 5 percent say they are Democrats.

* Glenn Beck rally draws tea party followers to Hoffman Estates

* Paul Mitchell’s live Tweets the event

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Pleading the fifth - Monday, Sep 20, 10 @ 11:42 am:

    “Get away from my french fries, Mrs. Obama,” Beck warned. “First politician that comes up to me with a carrot stick, I’ve got a place for it. And it’s not in my tummy.”

    Obviously Mrs. Obama is wrong to encourage children to have a healthier snack option considering obesity rates for all of us have sky-rocketed over the last decade. Fod God’s sake, don’t take away Beck’s french fries, I mean, freedom fries!

  2. - 47th Ward - Monday, Sep 20, 10 @ 11:48 am:

    I’ve seen some wildly divergent crowd estimates from Tea Party Palooza, but the straw poll to me is the best indicator of how many people paid $77 to attend.

    On the other hand, if there really were 3,000 people and less than 2,000 voted, I think that’s a nice metaphor for the power of the Tea Party to mobilize voters.

    $77 to watch Glenn Beck preach and Andrew Breibart heckle the hecklers. A fool and his money sums it up nicely. Is Right Nation using the proceeds of the event to support any candidates, or to line someone’s pockets?

    What a bunch of chumps.

  3. - Rich Miller - Monday, Sep 20, 10 @ 11:53 am:

    Take it easy, people. Calm down a bit.

  4. - Vote Quimby! - Monday, Sep 20, 10 @ 11:56 am:

    1,693 total votes? I can’t imagine that number being relevant in many races this November…

  5. - Bubs - Monday, Sep 20, 10 @ 12:00 pm:

    Some reports say 5,000, some say 3,000. The 1,700 total votes in the straw poll make me lean to the latter. If it was 5,000, then barely a third of the attendees voted, and that does not sound like this crowd at all.

  6. - Bubs - Monday, Sep 20, 10 @ 12:01 pm:

    But I would not advise anyone to underestimate the passion of those 3,000 people in the next 60 days.

  7. - wndycty - Monday, Sep 20, 10 @ 12:04 pm:

    Wow if less than 2,000 people voted in a straw poll when crowd estimates are up to 5,000 it does not bode well for the tea party.

  8. - train111 - Monday, Sep 20, 10 @ 12:05 pm:

    I get a kick out of these counts, including the one for Beck’s DC gathering. My 5 year old could count better than these people. The number of ballots cast in the straw poll is I believe pretty indicative of the fact that Right Nation 2010 was a bit of a dissapointment for its organizers in terms of audience size.
    I can’t help but wonder if the Tea Party has peaked a bit over a month out from the elctions.
    As far as Beck demanding that Michelle Obama stay away from his fries–I demand tha Beck stay away from my taxdollars for medicare and other medical expenses for heart related disorders created by eating what he wants to eat. I think ist a pretty fair trade. We’ll lay off your diet, if you lay off taxpayer finances tratments for the results of your diet.


  9. - Bubs - Monday, Sep 20, 10 @ 12:06 pm:

    What bothers me about the Tea Party is how social conservatives are relentless in subtly trying to turn it towards their pet issues. The TPs I know are all about taxes, reducing the size of government and its spending, and liberty. Once you inject social issues into the mix it will quickly deflate.

  10. - Obamarama - Monday, Sep 20, 10 @ 12:08 pm:

    My mother told me that if I don’t have anything nice to say not to say anything at all. I would have thought Ron Paul would have done a little better amongst Tea Party folks, though.

  11. - CircularFiringSquad - Monday, Sep 20, 10 @ 12:33 pm:

    Actually the place can hold up to 12K, they had downsized the venue and could only do about 50%. Not a very potent turnout.

    Best reporting of the night goes to newbie DH political writer Kerry Lester who quoted NoTaxBill about fighting career pols and then noting he has been around the GA for more than 2 decades. Hope she realized how that made NOTaxBill look like a fool.

    Good Job Kerry. Trib used a stringer. What gives there

  12. - Louis G. Atsaves - Monday, Sep 20, 10 @ 1:51 pm:

    OK, here is my first hand report.

    I attended as a guest of some friends. This would make this my first “official” tea party type of rally as a Republican. Having dealt with a lot of tea partiers the past year, I was not surprised by the composition of the crowd.

    What I was impressed with was the fact that so many paid high ticket prices to attend.

    All tickets were scanned at the door, so the announced crowd of 5,400 must be accurate, or easily verifiable. This included tickets picked up at “Will Call” windows. We were all casually searched (via hand wand) before entering.

    I sat at floor level for 4 hours (6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.) in a less than comfortable padded folding chair and felt the event ran too long. There was plenty of leg room and the folks around us were very nice.

    The stage, lighting, sound, videos were all professionally and well done. All kinds of cameras snapping photos with media credentials and the press tables (including a blogger section) were pretty well filled and stationed behind the area where I sat.

    The straw poll voting boxes were towards the front lobby by the main doors but many just walked past them at the end of the evening and didn’t bother voting. Of the group of 8 that I was with, only one person voted, (and that one person was not me). The straw poll wasn’t complicated and easy to figure out. I guessed that most present didn’t care about the presidential election right now and were focused on November. Your straw poll results seem to bear that out.

    Saw the bused in protestors all wearing matching shirts and chanting, they were confined to one area. Saw Breitbart engaged in several shouting matches with sign holders, which was pretty entertaining. Most of the signs of the bused in group were pretty silly. The buses they came in were right by where they were protesting.

    Saw very few off the wall costumes or get ups in the audience. Concluded that it was a middle class suburban type of audience that was very receptive to the (too many) speakers.

    Lots of “Liberty” speeches and “We tell the Government what to do, the Government doesn’t tell us what to do” themes. It got a little repetitive after a while.

    Both Brady and Plummer spoke well. Plummer did the Lt. Governor attack dog speech against their opponents, and I must say I was pretty impressed. He did it without rancor and with a smile on his face, more poking fun than “red meat chew on this” type of speech. He used a line that “young people like me” deserve a seat at governing table, and I am to be that person, or something along those lines. We are the ones who will be paying the bills of those currently controlling Springfield, we (young) should have a voice too type of theme.

    Brady spoke well, stayed on topic, concentrated on jobs and the economy and cited numbers posted here about massive Illinois job losses. The best politician speaking was Rep. Aaron Schrock, who can turn a phrase exceedingly well. He has a certain charisma that plays well to live audiences.

    The United Republican Fund (a co-sponsor of the event) spoke several times, and did an anti-Repubican type of message which didn’t seem to go over too well with those in attendance. Could it be that the URF is out of touch with both Republicans AND tea partiers? They stated at the podium that the net funds after expenses raised for this gathering would support good “conservative” candidates for office. The literature distributed at the event stated the funds would support Republican candidates. Which is it?

    The arena was set up to hold roughly 8,000, 9,000 people. Seats were cordoned off that had no sight lines to the stage or the two wide screens on either side. The upper deck was mostly empty all around the arena.

    I pegged the audience at around 5,000 and the set up looked nearly 2/3rds full, or 1/3 empty, depending on how one looks at things.

    Everyone present at the arena, from the parking attendants, cops, those manning the gates and security, were super friendly and everyone was at ease, except for the bused in protesters and Breitbart, who seems to be pretty intense 24/7.

    I’m not a Glenn Beck follower, have rarely watched his show, never heard him on radio, and do not pay too much attention to what he says as a rule. He is very entertaining and snaps off one liners as well as Rush Limbaugh. Sometimes he came across as a preacher at a tent revival.

    I guess in our studies of the tea party phenomenon, we need to distinguish between the real “Tea Party” and “912″ Groups, and organizations that sponsor these grand expensive spiritual revivals and pay the Becks and Palins large speaking fees who use the Tea Party/912 names for their own purposes. “Right Nation” falls into the latter category.

  13. - Park - Monday, Sep 20, 10 @ 6:54 pm:

    Thanks LGA. Intersting to see what these folks are really saying (not what the D talking points say).

    Can’t believe that Sarah Palin will really be a candidate for POTUS. Too weird. Liked her as a VP candidate last time, but quitting her full time job as Gov. lost it for her as a future candidate. Hope she makes a lot of $$ and retires back home.

  14. - MrJM - Monday, Sep 20, 10 @ 7:14 pm:

    Estimates of Tea Party activists numbers were three times as large as their number of votes.

    That seems about right.

    – MrJM

  15. - wordslinger - Monday, Sep 20, 10 @ 10:06 pm:

    Tea-party people were paying $77 minimum for the same old Brother Beck Traveling Salvation Show that they’re giving away, ad nausueum, every day on cable, radio, websites, etc?

    I guess on Saturday night, nobody tea-parties like Hoffman Estates tea-parties. They’re dropping Hamiltons like Aaron Burr (when will the media reveal the Obama connection to Burr?).

    For that price, I hope they got a couple of beers and a hot dog. That’s entertainment?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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