Christine O'Donnell: 'We're not trying to take back our country, we are our country'
By Felicia Sonmez
Three days after she toppled long-time Rep. Mike Castle (R) in Delaware's Senate primary, Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell made her debut on the national stage, delivering a defiant speech on the stage of the Family Research Council's annual meeting of social conservatives in Washington, D.C.
O'Donnell was greeted with a standing ovation Friday afternoon as she took to the same stage that had been graced earlier in the day by a cadre of potential White House 2012 hopefuls including former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R).
O'Donnell spent the bulk of her 18-minute speech taking aim at critics of conservatism and of the "tea party" movement. She kicked off her remarks by asking the crowd to remember back to a year-and-a-half ago when the conservative movement was "told to curl up into fetal position and just stay there the next eight years, thank you very much."
"How things have changed," O'Donnell said, to loud applause.
O'Donnell, whose long-shot bid against Castle received the heavy support of national tea party groups, spoke of a "grassroots groundswell, this revolution of reason, this love affair with liberty" and warned the group to gear up against those who would oppose them.
"Will they attack us? Yes. Will they smear our backgrounds and distort our records? Undoubtedly. Will they lie about us, harass our families, name-call and try to intimidate us? They will. There's nothing safe about it. But is it worth it?" O'Donnell asked.
"I say yes, yes, a thousand times yes," she continued. "This is no moment for the faint of heart."
She went on to challenge her critics, telling the several hundred attendees at the summit that opponents are "trying to marginalize us and put us in a box."
"They're trying to say we're taking over this party or that campaign," O'Donnell said. "They don't get it. We're not trying to take back our country, we are our country."
As she did during her bid against Castle, O'Donnell emphasized the need for limited government and railed against taxes, the Obama administration and health care. On the latter, she hinted at the notion of "death panels," a discredited claim that took root during the town hall debates on health care reform last summer.
Washington bureaucrats, O'Donnell said, "even want unelected panels of bureaucrats to decide who gets what life-saving medical care."
And she denounced those who would let the Bush-era tax cuts expire, saying that "the tax hikes coming in January are just another bailout, only this time, the government is bailing out itself."
O'Donnell made no mention in her speech of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) or Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), both of whom gave the candidate a much-needed boost in her race against Castle by endorsing her earlier this month.
She closed by calling the crowd to action, telling them "there are more of us than there are of them."
"We will be resisted, and we must resist as well," she added.
| September 17, 2010; 4:30 PM ET
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