Las Vegas Sun

June 17, 2019

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My day at the Showdown in Searchlight

If God really is on the side of the Tea Partiers, as we were told Saturday, why then did He make it so cold and windy and dusty for the BIGGEST EVENT IN THE HISTORY OF TEA PARTYING?

Amid the sea of flags, large, medium and small, and the signs, clever, pithy and ugly, the mood was captured early by one shivering Tea Partier who declared, “This is f---ing crazy.”

But you know what: It wasn’t. The crowd was relatively well behaved – at least while I was there until 1 or so – either because they were just there to have a good time or because they were chilled into obedience. Yes, there was a smattering of borderline racist stuff floating around, but these folks, while they may have been in redneck heaven, were only violent in the vehemence of their outbursts of anti-Reidisms (“Hey, ho, Harry Reid’s gotta go”). I must note, though, that the event on stage was kicked off with one of the organizers exhorting the 99.99 percent white crowd that they didn’t want any “hyphenated Americans.” This was somewhat offset by the earnest Debbie Landis, a Reno-based organizer of the event, who simply told the crowd all they wanted was transparency and fiscal accountability: “We are peaceful, we are off our couch and we are going to take this country back.”

It seemed to me that most were there not to vent their anger but to have a good time – maybe it was a “Conservative Woodstock,” after all, with the songs mostly about Obama-Pelosi-Reid and how the triumvirate is destroying our country, which we have to take back, although where it went I still can’t figure out.

The event also was remarkably on time, although in order to get Sarah Palin up there shortly after noon, only a couple of U.S. Senate candidates were allowed to speak, so you can imagine how the thousands of folks there (not sure it got to 10,000) actually might believe Chad Christensen is the best choice to oust Reid because the rest of the major contenders did not get to speak. I wonder how the chilling (literally) Danny Tarkanian, Sue Lowden, Sharron Angle and John Chachas felt about that. (I think some got to speak late in the day.)

Here is some of what I saw at the incipient revolution:

----Some signs/T-shirts to remember:

“Nevada without Reid. That’s change we can believe in.”

“The only thing I hate about Nevada is Harry Reid”

“Pelosi is the White House’s new Monica.”

“Welcome to Scamalot”

“MSNBC: Curing insomnia one viewer at a time”

“Support a Terrorist. Vote Democrat”

“Guns don’t kill people. Abortion clinics kill people”

“Harry: Searchlight Needs You, America Doesn’t”


There were many buses. Little Tark had one. Lowden had one. Gibbons had one. All kinds of cars, too, with my favorite juxtaposition a Yugo next to a Lamborghini.

One woman was offering to paint “Hi” on people’s hands to welcome Palin. Many took her up on it. (I declined.)

Most of the candidates had the dress code down – jeans and some kind of boots.

There was a brief bashing of the Tea Party of Nevada as trying to divide the movement, but that was it.

Chad Christensen compared himself to Scott Brown and claimed “Harry Reid ran one of his protégés against me” (Justin Jones, whose wife is a Reidite, I suppose) after he braved pressure and voted against an “income tax” in 2003. (Fact check: Reid couldn’t care less about Christensen and it wasn’t an income tax.) More CC: “I am the only man in this race capable of beating the bad guy, Harry Reid.” Really!

Most crowd-inspiring of early candidate speakers: Joe Heck and, surprisingly, Brian Sandoval. They were brief and hit the hot buttons with enthusiasm.

Gov. Jim Gibbons was strangely subdued during two brief appearances on stage. No raised voice or rah-rah stuff.

Tea Party Chairman Mark Williams had one of the best lines of the day: “This is the Woodstock you will remember.”

Lloyd Marcus sang a Tea Party song to the tune of “New York New York” with lines such as: “This socialist nightmare must come to an end….My Obama blues are fading away.”

And, finally, Sarah Palin winked at me as she went onstage. I swear. I am still shaky from it.

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