There was no moment more anticipated on the first day of the Values Voter Summit here in Washington today than Christine O’Donnell’s time at the podium. By agreeing to appear as a last-minute addition to the VVS schedule, Delaware’s upset Republican nominee for Senate was able to upstage such GOP notables as Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, who spoke earlier this morning.
[TPM SLIDESHOW: Morals, Morals, Morals! Conservatives Gather For Values Voter Summit]
When it finally came time for O’Donnell to take the stage in the mid-afternoon, the plucky ultra-right winger didn’t disappoint. From death panels to tea party shout-outs, the speech had (basically) it all.
Here’s a pretty good example of how it all went down:
“The ruling class elites may try but they will never have the last word on liberty,” O’Donnell said. “There’s something about our national DNA that insists on shouting at those who would be our masters, ‘You’re not the boss of me!’”
O’Donnell said that Thomas Jefferson may have written something similar in the Declaration of Independence, though she admitted he maybe did it “a little more eloquently.”
O’Donnell is a strange character in the conservative revolution. Committed now to all the tea party’s central fiscal ideology — in her speech, she slammed the idea of letting the Bush tax cuts on the rich expire as well as the idea of extending unemployment benefits — O’Donnell started as a voice on the “values” side of the conservative fence. Her speech, like so many others today, sought to meld together the fiscal and the moral conservative aims into a Republican electoral alloy.
Describing the rise of the tea party movement, O’Donnell said that the values voters had reached new heights by standing on the shoulders of people wearing tri-corn hats.
But even with her newfound status as a tea party hero, O’Donnell is at her best when talking about values. It was clear that morals are in her wheelhouse, even if they aren’t the focus of her current Senate campaign. When describing politicians and bureaucrats, O’Donnell showed the values cred that made her a mainstay of cable TV for all those years. She was clearly in her element.
“They’ll buy your teenaged daughter an abortion,” she said. “But they won’t let her buy a sugary soda in a school’s vending machine.”