Tea and Crumpets

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Here’s my take from the first day – which was mostly meet and greet. Later in the evening former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo delivered a predictable speech on immigration reform and the health care bill – an updated version of his 2008 stump speeches during his short-lived presidential campaign — as the audience munched on warm hors d’oeuvres (not crumpets, oh well) and sipped on cocktails. “People who could not spell the word vote or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House,” Tancredo opened. “Name is Barack Hussein Obama.” The audience hooped and applauded.

The presence of more than 100 credentialed media was a bit of a distraction. Obviously unused to dealing with certain media outlets, I’m told by TIME colleagues that Judson Phillips – the convention’s main organizer – was at first taken aback when an al Jazeera correspondent introduced herself to him. “Do you have a problem with my outlet?” she asked when he didn’t shake her hand. “Yes, I’m an American,” Phillips responded. But, by later that night, he’d clearly spoken with his media advisors because he made a point of welcoming al Jazeera along with the rest of the media. (As a side note, all the local Nashville press were left out.)

Organizers boasted of the media access, crowing that Japanese tv is broadcasting the sessions in high definition and press from Germany, Croatia, England, France, Spain, Switzerland and Brazil were all in attendance. “All sessions are open to the public, unlike Barack Hussein Obama’s health care negotiations. He said he’d allow C-SPAN in and he didn’t. Well, C-SPAN will be here all weekend,” said Mark Skoda, a leader of the Memphis Tea Party chapter and the convention’s unofficial spokesman. “We are distributing this all around the world because it is uniquely American.”

By the end of the night, much of the room knelt in prayer – one of the pastors, Rick Scarborough, went after homosexuals several times to choruses of amens — before watching a Tea Party video. Today we heard from Steve Milloy, author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them, on how global warming is a hoax and from Skoda about why Tea Party activism in the way of the future. Skoda promised a major announcement pertaining to the 2010 elections at 1pm (2pm ET). I’ll post again then.