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Glenn Beck's rally wasn't all about uplifting messages.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday and addressing tens of thousands of admirers at his “Restoring Honor” rally, conservative and religious talk show host Glenn Beck said, “"America today begins to turn back to God."
And he spoke of positive actions. “Today we are going to concentrate on the good things in America,” he said, “the things that we have accomplished and the things that we can do tomorrow."
But in the massive crowd, there was an undercurrent of negativity – people concentrating on what they consider to be the bad things in America.
Wearing a “Nobama” t-shirt, Ted McCarron, 45, of DeKalb Illinois, said that he was somewhat disappointed that the event was not more politicized. McCarron works the over night shift at a warehouse. He watches and listens to Glenn Beck.
He said that he was glad he had come, but there was too much emphasis from the speakers on conciliation for his liking. “I was hoping it would be more like a Tea Party event,” he said.
“I’m an ultraconservative,” McCarron said. “I believe that 80 percent of the federal government is illegal because it’s unconstitutional.”
“The stronger the government gets,” he said, “the weaker we get.”
Though signs and placards were discouraged by Beck, plenty of rally-goers like McCarron sported tshirts emblazoned with photos and slogans to get their points across — wearing their emotions on their sleevelessness.
There were lots of Tea Party shirts, invoking the Constitution and protesting taxes and other governmental actions. One popular design featured an illustration of the Constitution and the words "Taken Enough Already" (T.E.A., as in Tea Party). Another advertised "Sick of Spending." Lots of people wore "Stop Socialism" stickers.
Near the Mall, vendors peddled large and small "Don't Tread on Me" flags, popular with tea party enthusiasts. One group distributed fliers urging voters to "Dump Obama." In the material Obama was depicted wearing a Hitler-like mustache. One man blasted “Obama No!” through a portable amplifier.
There was no way to get an accurate count on the Tea Party faithful, or the throngs at large. But it was a massive turnout. As political observers have noted, the influence of the tea party, and widespread voter disgruntlement in general, have already played a role in primary elections and could be a mitigating factor in November.
A Vietnam War veteran, Ken Ratliff, 55, of Rochester, N.Y., said he is leaning toward the tea party. "There's got to be a change, man," he said.
Mike Cash, a 56-year-old Atlanta businessman, wore a T-shirt that read "Treat Obama like a used tea bag, toss him out now!" Cash, who brought his family, said he wouldn’t have missed the rally. "We are here kind of protesting about our government, too. I'm a businessman and I'm worried about taxes going up."
As Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin spoke, rally volunteers near the Washington Monument handed out leaflets: Stop the Madness.
One usher, shepherding the crowd to the north side of the Reflecting Pool, repeatedly said, “The far right is less crowded.” But on this particular August day in America, the far right seemed to be very crowded.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)