CNN reports on the opening of the first national “Tea Party” convention in Nashville:
[F]ormer U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado used his kickoff speech to slam President Obama.
“People who could not even spell the word ‘vote,’ or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House. His name is Barack Hussein Obama,” Tancredo said to cheers Thursday night.
A spokesman for the Tea Party Nation, the group that organized the convention, said Tancredo’s speech may have provided some red meat but termed it problematic.
“It doesn’t further the dialogue,” said Mark Skoda, a businessman and founder of the Memphis Tea Party, who is also serving as spokesman for the convention.
Organizers say some 600 people have paid $549 each to attend the convention and that the event is sold out. But they add that tickets costing $349 are still available for Saturday night’s banquet, where former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin will give the convention’s keynote address.
Tancredo, who sought the Republican nomination for president in 2008, has raised the possibility of bombing Mecca and Medina in retaliation for a terrorist attack in the US– an idea for which even The National Review’s John Podorhetz called him “an idiot.”
What’s broadly known as the Tea Party movement– which began last April with a series of rallies focused largely on opposing Obama’s domestic political agenda– has fractured, and some elements have distanced themselves from the Nashville gathering.
Red State blogger Erick Erickson wrote that while he has good things to say about some groups within the Tea Party, “this national Tea Party convention smells scammy.”
Mark Meckler said he and Jenny Beth Martin, co-founders of the Tea Party Patriots, aren’t participating in the convention because “it wasn’t the kind of grassroots organization that we are, so we declined to participate.”
Update: The Raw Story adds:
The opening night speaker at the Tea Party convention suggested a return to a “literacy test” to protect America from presidents like Obama — a segregation-era method employed by southern US states to keep blacks from voting.
In his speech Thursday to attendees, former Republican congressman Tom Tancredo invoked the loaded pre-civil rights era buzzword, saying that President Barack Obama was elected because “we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country.”
Southern states used literacy tests as part of an effort to deny suffrage to African American voters prior to Johnson-era civil rights laws.
(Hat tip: Andrew Murphy)