In a speech that was part political stem-winder and part “Antiques Roadshow,” media personality Glenn Beck returned to Louisville Saturday and talked about Muslims, communists and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.
His was the keynote address as FreePAC, a day long rally to support tea party-like candidates and help organize grassroots political volunteers put on by FreedomWorks, a national group that is trying to beat McConnell in the May primary.
Also speaking was Republican Matt Bevin, who is challenging McConnell in the primary.FreedomWorks brought some 10,000 yard signs to give out to those in the crowd that organizers estimated at about 3,500. Some people carried out boxes of signs.
“They’re really going,” said Russ Walker, the group’s national political director. Some were small signs you’ll find in front yards around town. Other’s were big 4-foot-by-8 foot signs saying “Vote Matt Bevin“ and “Retire Mitch” that you’ll find in rural fields.
Beck’s speech was often interrupted by cheers from the crowd, which was almost exclusively white and largely middle age or older.
During his sometimes rambling speech, Beck held up historical relics he has collected over the years, including the microphone he said was used by “Tokyo Rose,” the napkin Adolf Hitler was using when an assassin’s bomb blew up near him, and the copy of “Mein Kampf“ owned by that attempted assassin, Col. Claus von Stauffenberg.
He once raised a copy of the Koran he said dates to revolutionary times and said that President Thomas Jefferson saw the danger of “radical Islam.”
Beck wept as he held a compass he said belonged to President George Washington as he talked about holding it and rubbing it with his thumb on the day he decided to quit his job at the Fox News Channel.
The idea behind the litany of props was that people need to learn history and become involved in politics.
Once, Beck who was a shock jock in Louisville some 30 years ago, praised Bevin, saying that he was Heaven-sent.
“I believe that man was called of God,” Beck said.
He was equally harsh on McConnell, who he has railed about on his conservative radio talk show for being “too liberal.”
At one point, he compared the Senate minority leader to the current president, who was not held in high esteem by Saturday’s crowd. “Mitch McConnell is as big a danger to this country as Barack Obama is,” he said.
Another time, he asked if anyone who works for McConnell was in the crowd. “Your guy’s going out of business very soon,” he said.
David Dickerson, a tea party member from Glasgow, raved about the speech afterward, especially when Beck said that communism, socialism and Nazism are connected, saying liberals who use the word “Nazi” often don’t know what they’re talking about.
“They need to learn what a Nazi is before they start calling (members of the tea party) that,” he said.
Mike Ferriell, of Spencer County, said he agreed with everything Beck said. “He just caught everything that bothers me about the direction of the country,” he said.
Bevin got the coveted place on the agenda just before Beck. During it, he didn’t mention McConnell by name but criticized him for ducking debates. McConnell’s campaign has suggested that he wouldn’t debate Bevin because he’s not a worthy opponent.
“Why would you be afraid to debate?” he asked. “Why would you be afraid to be on the record, to come out and defend what it is you're about? Why should your selfishness, your hubris, and your cowardice prevent you from speaking to the people and making the case for why you deserve six more years?”
“I believe that man was called of God,” Beck said - looks like God picked a sure loser.