Top Democrat dismisses Beck’s ‘non-political’ rally as blatant politics
A Washington rally that will be hosted by Fox TV’s Glenn Beck and feature conservative power broker Sarah Palin drew the wrath on Friday of the chairman of the House Democratic campaign committee.
Chris Van Hollen rejected organizers’ assurances that the “Restoring Honor Rally” — expected to draw thousands of members of the conservative Tea Party movement — would be “non-political.”
In fact, Van Hollen predicted the rally would be partisan and could turn off many voters.
The event, to be held on Saturday on the National Mall — between the U.S. Capitol and Lincoln Memorial — is billed as an opportunity to “celebrate America by honoring our heroes, our heritage, our future.”
But with Beck and Palin on stage before a crush of enthusiastic followers, the rally seems ripe for partisan bashing.
“Let’s call it what it is. It’s a blatant political effort,” Van Hollen told reporters at the National Press Club where he also said his party would prove many analysts wrong and retain control of the House in the Nov. 2 election.
“You’ve seen Glenn Beck and a lot of the talk show hosts on Fox News out there talking about this election for the last 15 months,” Van Hollen said.
“Since the day President Obama was elected president, we’ve had a constant a tirade against the president, against the Democratic efforts to get the economy turned around.”
Van Hollen said such talk can backfire.
“Americans are going to be turned off by the sort of just outrageous rhetoric on the right — conspiracy theories, rants,” Van Hollen said.
“There’s certainly an element of the electorate that is charged up by that,” Van Hollen said. “But again, I think it’s a turnoff to the sensible center and the people who constitute the key independent voters in these swing districts” who will be crucial on Election Day.
Van Hollen brushed off as “premature” reports of the demise of House Democrats and the return to power of House Republicans, who he said are already popping champagne bottles in celebration.
“It is very clear that that Democrats will retain a majority in the House,” Van Hollen insisted.
He said Democrats are better financed and, compared to Republicans, have mainstream rather than far-right candidates.
Van Hollen also said Americans voters want to keep moving ahead and not return to Republican policies that he said put the nation in an economic hole.
While public opinion polls show Republicans heading toward big gains in the House, perhaps enough to take control, Van Hollen said it’s still early.
“Most of the activity in the campaign is going to happen in the next nine and one-half weeks,” he said.
Photo credits: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Tea Party supporter stakes out a spot for Saturday’s “Restoring Honor” rally); Reuters/Chris Keane (Beck at an NRA meeting in Charlotte May 15)