Last night, I covered a tea-party rally . . . in midtown Manhattan. Hundreds of protesters gathered near the James A. Farley Post Office, just across the street from Madison Square Garden. The star of the evening was Lou Dobbs, the former CNN newsman. Will he run for president in 2012? He told me that he “hasn’t decided.” Maybe not, but he sure looked, talked, and shook hands like a candidate. College Republicans snapped pictures, conservative radio jocks shelled out their cards, and grandmas in flag T-shirts pined for his attention.
Introduced as an “independent populist,” Dobbs took to the podium to cheers. He then looked out at the crowd, very comfortable with the klieg lights nearby, and praised the “real Americans” he saw before him. The speech was extemporaneous, and pretty short, but it did hint at possible themes for a run.
“Those who want to accuse the tea party of all sorts of nasty things do so for one reason,” Dobbs declared, gesturing toward the huddled mass on Eighth Avenue. “You are scaring the hell out of them. You are scaring people all over this country. You, my friends, are dangerous. And I love that about you.”
“We are coming together out of love and not hate,” Dobbs continued. “Out of love and not anger. Love of country, love of Constitution, love of God, and love of this nation’s founding principles, ideals, and values.”
“There is one race in America,” Dobbs said. “It is the American citizen . . . We are so fortunate to live in this nation, a nation that occasionally loses its way we have to admit. We’ve allowed ourselves over the last 30 years to be divided by wedge issues. There are issues that are critically important to be resolved in our society, but they are distractions and diversions from the issues at hand, which are for this nation to realize its potential and for you and me to deliver on the promise of the founders.”
“The reality is that we’ve allowed this gentleman (President Obama) to create a trillion dollars in debt that will run for at least the next ten years, robbing not only this generation but future generations,” Dobbs concluded. “Almost half of our economy is now a socialist economy.”