Tea party, conservatives enliven Washington GOP convention

More than 1,200 delegates wrapped up the three-day meeting, hearing speech after speech castigating big government and Democrats.

Outsiders were in at the Washington state Republican Convention, with candidates who align themselves with the tea party movement and conservative causes getting long and lengthy ovations.

More than 1,200 delegates wrapped up the three-day meeting Saturday in Vancouver, hearing speech after speech castigating big government and Democrats, who hold power in both Washington, D.C., and Washington state.

Enthusiasm aside, the August primary and not party conventions will decide the candidates for November's general election.

IN PICTURES: Tea Parties

"It's time we the people had the courage and fortitude to take our country back," U.S. Senate candidate Clint Didier told the gathering Saturday. "When I get to D.C., there's going to be hell to pay."

Didier, a Pasco farmer and former Washington Redskins football player, took a break from the convention Friday to fly to Richland and meet with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who was in southeast Washington to visit relatives.

Palin repeated her endorsement of Didier.

"He knew he had something to offer this great state and our country," Palin told the Tri-City Herald. "He didn't wait to see what the lineup would look like. He didn't play the political games that so many others do."

Didier, who wants to take on Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., told delegates his game plan: "Secure our borders, unshackle our industries and get rid of the regulations."

It's time, he added, "to fight our way back to the light, to the truth, to the Lord God Almighty."

Dino Rossi, a former state senator who twice lost the governor's race to Democrat Chris Gregoire, received a standing ovation when he entered the room.

Rossi, who entered the race for Senate just two weeks ago, said he did so because the country is in trouble. That's obvious, he said, "when our bankers — the Chinese — are telling us we are spending too much money. We're going to wake up in a country we don't even recognize."

Senate candidate Paul Akers touted his success as a Bellingham business owner who has managed to save and even create jobs during the recession.

Attorney General Rob McKenna won high praise from delegates for joining a multistate lawsuit challenging a mandate in the health reform bill that requires people without health insurance to buy coverage or pay a fine.

McKenna thanked the tea party group "We the People" for mobilizing 2,000 people to rally on the steps of the state Capitol in support of his action, which has been denounced by Gregoire and other Democrats.

"If anyone thinks the Constitution is some historical artifact, 'We the People' and similar groups prove otherwise," he said.

"They are breathing new life into the Constitution."

IN PICTURES: Tea Parties

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