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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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Tea Party Launches ‘Counter-Revolution’

February 4, 2010 - 11:02 PM | by: Judd Berger

The first-ever National Tea Party Convention started with a bang Thursday, as conservative firebrand Tom Tancredo used his kickoff speech to rail against “the cult of multiculturalism” and the country’s “socialist ideologue” president — and declare that the tea party movement is here to stop it.

“The race for America is on right now,” the former GOP Colorado congressman told the crowd in Nashville. “You have launched the counter-revolution.”

And so it begins. According to convention organizer Judson Phillips, the event’s 600 tickets have sold out. Tea party supporters from all across the country arrived at the Gaylord Opryland hotel Thursday for a weekend of strategy sessions, workshops and speeches.

The convention is much, much smaller than the party-sanctioned Democratic and Republican ones, but the opulence of the Opryland grounds — and the $500+ ticket price — give it the air of something more official.

The convention-goers who traveled here range from the mere fiscal conservative to the all-out President Obama basher.

“To me, Obama’s the enemy of this country, and he’s not the only one,” said Harley Clinton, who traveled from Maryland with his wife, who sported an OBAMA T-shirt — with the letters spelling out “One Big Awful Mistake America.”

Tancredo, a former presidential candidate known for his opposition to illegal immigration, drew the battle lines between the tea party movement and the leadership in Washington in his opening speech.

“People who could not spell the word vote or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House — name is Barack Hussein Obama,” he said. “The revolution has come. It was led by the cult of multiculturalism aided by leftist liberals all over who don’t have the same ideas about America as we do.”

Arguing that American “culture,” one based on “Judeo-Christian principles,” is under attack, Tancredo said the tea party movement would be non-existent if Obama hadn’t won the election and pushed the country swiftly to the left.

It’s unclear whether the convention will result in a more unified tea party movement, or a more loose-knit and multi-faceted one. Some activists showed up to learn how to better organize local chapters at home.

Tracey Anderson, a real estate broker from Indianapolis, said that’s why she came. And she said, so far as she can tell, this isn’t the start of a whole new party.

“It’s a movement of, we’re sick of it — listen to us. We’re sick of you making decisions without listening to the people who you work for,” she said. “It’s conservatism. … It’s not a new party. It is a movement.”

The tea party movement has been effective in disrupting the balance of power from within the GOP. Some tea party-supported candidates are gaining steam in various GOP primary races across the country. But Scott Brown, who had the support of both tea party and non-tea party in his successful run for senator in Massachusetts, appeared to be the de facto guest of honor in Nashville — though he was hours away getting sworn in to the Senate.

Tancredo gave Brown a shout-out in his speech, which drew ecstatic applause and cheers from the audience. And he even borrowed Brown’s pitch line.

“I’m Tom Tancredo … and I drive a Harley,” Tancredo said.

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