At a rally for the Brevard County Tea Party Patriots held Saturday at the Space Coast Stadium, MC and local radio host Bill Mick described the bleachers as a wall of separation. The concourse behind the crowd was lined with tables manned by supporters of more than a dozen candidates in upcoming elections, but the field itself was considered a “candidate-free zone.” #
For Rick Scott, organizers made an exception. #
As a “self-made millionaire and political outsider,” Scott “exemplifies what the tea party’s all about,” Mick said while introducing the Republican gubernatorial candidate. #
The other speakers were mostly local activists, who led the crowd in singing patriotic songs, spoke out against code enforcement by local governments — which they said was a violation of property rights — and recounted stories of the Founding Fathers and the American Revolution. #
Aside from calls to vote against Amendment 4, speakers avoided references to specific positions or candidates, until Scott, who has long cultivated an “outsider” image, took the mic and launched his usual salvo at career politicians. #
His speech touched most of his signature issues: cutting taxes, reducing the regulatory burden on businesses, and cracking down on illegal immigration. #
“If you came into our country illegally, you should leave,” he said to enthusiastic applause. #
He avoided attacking his primary opponent, Bill McCollum, whose supporters had set up a table in the concourse. #
Matt Nye, the rally’s organizer, says he wouldn’t invite a candidate to such a rally again. Organizers had been looking for a big-name headliner, preferably a non-candidate, but most conservative icons were booked for the Fourth of July weekend. #
Scott was interested in appearing and seemed like a natural choice, but Nye says he has caught flak in recent days from McCollum supporters, which has shown him that inviting candidates to this sort of event can create unwanted divisions. #
The tea party movement lacks an official organizing structure, he says, so it does not — indeed cannot — endorse individual candidates. #
“There’s nothing inherently wrong with career politicians,” he adds. “The real question is this: Are they obeying their oath to uphold the Constitution?” #
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