On Monday, Sep. 12, at Tampa's Straz Center for the Performing Arts, radio host Dennis Prager addressed a VIP crowd so spellbound that members finally stopped posing for pictures with actor Jon Voight and Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee in order to listen.
“I continue to believe Tampa is the friendliest place in the United States,” Prager said. “Do you believe that or am I romanticizing your city?”
Thus began the Liberty Rally, a night of right-wing camaraderie in Tampa that included a panel of talk radio hosts — Prager, Mike Gallagher, Hugh Hewitt and Tampa’s own Bill Bunkley — alongside Voight and Clarke.
The event began with a VIP gathering at 5:30 at Maestro's Restaurant at the Straz before moving down to Ferguson Hall, where the speakers addressed a more general (admission) audience at 7.
Hundreds of Republicans and other like-minded individuals crowded into Ferguson to hear the slew of notable conservative voices crack GOP jokes and speak their minds.
“Donald Trump’s been called a lot of things. One thing he’s not is an educator. But he’s been schooling a lot of people,” Hewitt said, ignoring his own curiously ambiguous support for the candidate.
Topics included, but were not limited to, the failure of liberal policy, Donald Trump, the nation’s general loss of respect for authority, ensuring party survival and back to Trump.
Prager listed three among the thousand reasons why he believes “the Left is ruining Western civilization.” One was a policy decision made by Italy’s Supreme Court to allow public masturbation. In Italy. Go figure.
“The Left brings civilization down. It’s like ebonics,” he said, then using the dialect as an analogy for the sloppiness of American culture.
Gallagher explained Hillary Clinton’s inadequacy as president through her failing health, a pneumonia diagnosis, while neglecting to mention that Vice President Dick Cheney suffered four heart attacks before stepping into office, including one right after Election Day in 2000.
In a surprise plot twist, Voight, a former liberal, claimed he and the rest of Hollywood had been “infected” by Marxist propaganda of the 1960s.
Yet the greatest applause was saved for David Clarke, the Democratic sheriff who frequents Fox News and prides himself on being unlike Democrats.
A cowboy hat among suits, he was the night’s renegade, employing impassioned yet peculiar rhetoric. He discussed “playing smashmouth politics” like Trump and called the present day “a pitchfork-and-torches time in America.”
Still, the message to Republicans was clear. Vote for Trump because he will save the party. Because he is the “lesser of two evils,” as multiple panelists deemed him. Because, according to the, there is no other choice.