WASHINGTON – The hundreds of tea party protesters who gathered on Capitol Hill Tuesday were shuffling away from a series of speeches from lawmakers and organizers, all panning health care reform, when one final, unscheduled, speaker grabbed the megaphone.
Charles Lollar, a Maryland Republican running for Congress against House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, jumped up on a bench and gave the most impassioned and well-received speech of the day.
“The crowd asked him to speak,” said Jennifer Hulsey, an organizer for the event. “They said, ‘We want Charles, we want Charles.’ So I said, ‘OK,’ and we gave ’em Charles.”
Lollar didn’t focus much on the specific issue of health care. Instead, he gave a broad rallying cry for what he thinks the Tea Party movement is all about by evoking America’s founding fathers.
“When our founders arrived here, they had no developer to build them a home, they had no Bank of America to give them a loan and they had no public option to cover them,” Lollar said. “They understood, if you give us our freedom, if you leave our money alone, we will build the greatest nation on God’s green earth.”
After saying that the Tea Party message isn’t about hate, Lollar joked about tarring and feathering Washington politicians.
“Thomas Jefferson once said that every generation must have its own revolution,” Lollar said. “This is ours, my friends.”
Hoyer’s spokeswoman Lisa Bianco declined to discuss Lollar, but said the congressman is working to pass health insurance reform because Americans and small business owners — not insurance companies — should have control over their health care, and because rising costs will continue to bankrupt families, businesses and governments without congressional action.
Lollar wasn’t the only underdog Maryland Republican with a presence at Tuesday’s rally.
Dave Wallace, the state director for U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rutledge, also worked the Tea Party crowd by talking to participants individually. He estimated that 15-20 percent of the crowd was from Maryland.
Wallace said health care is a big issue in Maryland and will continue to be until the midterm elections in November.
“(We need) to get the same energy and capture this energy that we have here today…and focus it on our upcoming elections to put conservative, constitutional-minded people in office,” said Wallace.
Seven House Republicans spoke at the rally, including Reps. Mike Pence, R-Ind., Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., and Joe Wilson, R-S.C.
Much of the rally’s anger was focused on the proposed “Slaughter solution,” a complicated legislative procedure by which House Democrats could deem that the Senate version of the health bill is passed, without having to take a recorded vote.
“Last year, they wanted us to pass a bill without having to read it. This year, they want us to pass a bill without having to vote on it,” said Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, waved a copy of the health care bill above his head, referring to the bill as an “abortion” he had to show the crowd.
Bachmann urged the protesters to keep up the pressure until the weekend, when the final vote is expected to take place.