Skip to comments.Keyes Fires Up GOP Faithful
Posted on 08/09/2004 7:43:52 AM PDT by churchillbuff
Alan Keyes strode onto the Illinois stage Sunday and began one of the speeches of a lifetime with two little words: "Thank you."
"Thank YOU!" the crowd roared with gratitude at finally having a GOP candidate for U.S. Senate.
Keyes, a Maryland resident, doesn't even have a home here yet, but he boomed dramatically: "I have confidence because the victory is for God."
With the fire of a general ordering his troops into the valley of death, Keyes promised "a battle like this nation has never seen," and an ongoing debate unequalled since Lincoln vs. Douglas.
Keyes stirred the crowd of party faithful, anti-abortion activists and homeschoolers with a speech that started with media-bashing and hit strong on the issues where he considers Democratic challenger Barack Obama vulnerable: gun rights and abortion.
Keyes said he was initially reluctant to enter the race, but "what finally arrested my attention and forced me to consider . . . was when I learned that [Obama] had actually in April 2002 apparently cast a vote that would continue to allow live-birth abortions in the state of Illinois."
Keyes was tapped by state Republican leaders after GOP candidate Jack Ryan folded his campaign amid allegations he once took his wife to sex clubs. Keyes' entrance sets up a contest between two candidates at opposite ends of the political spectrum. It also marks the first time in the nation's history that both parties have fielded an African-American candidate for a major statewide office.
But before Keyes took the stage Sunday to accept the challenge, he had a quick meeting with some of the state's top Republican leaders.
"What do I need to know?'' he asked the group, according to a top Republican source. "I'm the outsider. You tell me. I want to hear -- what do people of this state care about?''
Keyes, a conservative talk show host who has made two failed attempts at the presidency, has just over two months to figure that out -- something he is vowing to do.
He flew into Chicago Saturday night -- his 54th birthday. Over the weekend Keyes met both with white voters in the suburbs and African Americans on the city's South Side. Keyes spent the night at the South Side home of Hiram Crawford Jr., a second-generation activist in the movement opposing abortion and gay rights.
A Roman Catholic, Keyes attended mass at Holy Name Cathedral Sunday morning before visiting St. Mark's Missionary Baptist Church in Harvey. He also ate a Denver omelette at one of Chicago's quintessential breakfast spots -- Lou Mitchell's in the Loop.
Obama, a state senator who was in Toronto visiting a sister with a newborn, welcomed Keyes to the race by issuing a prepared statement inviting him to engage in a race free from attacks. But the Keyes candidacy was strongly criticized by Democratic leaders, who questioned his understanding and loyalty to Illinois.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) accused the Illinois Republican Party of allowing itself to be "hijacked'' by an extreme base after it foundered to find someone to challenge an impressive Obama, who charged out of the primary with 53 percent of the vote and whose popularity spiked after his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.
"I think they were desperate,'' Durbin said at a news conference. "I think they were overtaken by a faction of the party. . . . Alan Keyes doesn't represent the Republican wing, he represents the right wing of the right wing of the party.''
But his message Sunday was well-received by a crowd of about 375 people at an old-time political rally at the Wellington Restaurant in Arlington Heights. Keyes spoke in a packed, sweltering room filled with adulation and the circus-like atmosphere of a bumptious political race. One elderly woman even collapsed after his speech -- and was attended to by losing primary candidate Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria.
"It's like [Keyes] was reading from the National Republican platform," said Raymond True, chair of the Republican Assembly of Lake County. Keyes, he said, "hit all the ideological high points."
In fact, Republican Jim Oberweis, who flanked Keyes onstage along with other GOP candidates who lost in the primary to Ryan, called the race with Obama no less than "a debate between good on the right and evil on the left."
Durbin, however, criticized this "divisive'' approach to politics, saying Obama instead has the ability to talk to residents about jobs, health care and other local and regional challenges.
"Alan Keyes is in the dark,'' he said. "It would be very difficult to serve in the Senate with someone who couldn't find the counties of the state with a road map.''
Keyes answered the drumbeat of criticism about his residency by repeatedly invoking Illinois' embrace of Kentuckian and fellow Republican Abraham Lincoln.
By principles alone, he said, "I've lived in the Land of Lincoln all my life, and I will be proud to call Illinois my home.''
Meanwhile, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) launched an attack against Obama, his strongest to date, during an interview Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." He accused Obama of voting against stiffer penalties for drug use, drug dealing and for people who kill emergency workers in the line of duty.
Looks like Hastert is pro-Keyes -- hope some of the reluctant Freepers will take the hint.
I love listening to Keyes speak. I get completely hypnotized by him. I wish him well in his campaign. He has a tough road ahead but I have this gut feeling he may just win.
A real conservative vs a real liberal. Alan is firing on all cylinders. Its going to be an exciting three months in the Land Of Lincoln! The fact Dick Durbin is concerned strongly suggests we've found a candidate who can give Barack Obama a run for the money.
Am I totally crazy to think that Keyes has a shot? I really think that once people see who Obama really is, they'll support Keyes. But then again, I'm a Texan, so what is the pulse in Illinois? Can he beat the "rising star of the Democratic Party"?
Sidenote: By the way, the whole "rising star" title drives me totally crazy. The media says he is, but they are the one who made him one. It drives me nuts. I've never seen a media-ordained rising star in the Republican Party (other than "Maverick" Senator John McCain and his "Straight Talk Express".) Alright, I am getting more angry as I sit here thinking about it, so I'll stop.
I'd like some of what you're smoking.
Friends of mine went to the Keyes rally....there were over 500 in attendence. He Wowed the crowd.
Dick Durbin. Now there's a source you can trust. He couldn't find the truth if it was wrapped in hundred dollar bills.
I guess it wouldn't take broken glass to stop you from supporting Keyes, or am I wrong in inferring you don't like him?
Alan Keyes in Illinois is no better than Hillary Clinton running in New York. All of us Republicans decried her as a lousy carpetbaggger and declared that anyone who voted for her was an imbecile. How can we now support Keyes? He's not from Illinois and has never lived there. He doesn't have a prayer in this election yet a bunch of Republicans will become hypocrites and support him just because he's in the GOP. If we can't find a decent Republican from the state then we deserve to lose it.
I like Alan Keyes. He is a very articulate spokesman for conservative ideas and issues. If he were running for the Senate in the state of his residence, I would support him in his effort. He is doing the same thing HRC did and if it was wrong for her to do so (it was) then it is wrong for him. I'm not into situational ethics.
Yes, yes, and yes. I'm embarrassed for Illinois Republicans and for Amb. Keyes. It's a shame.
Good for Alan - I hope his party has the stones to back him up.
It'll be interesting to see how many here on FR would rather throw the seat to a liberal democrat than have an unapologetic conservative win it.
No, he's answering the Illinois Republicans' call for help. Hillary, in contrast, came in because she was on a power trip - - she pushed people aside so she could claim the prize. The situations couldn't be more different.
In short, yes.
Obama has a record, the record of an extreme leftist.
We will hang him with that record.
People like you would rather have a Marxist represent you than a God-fearing American. If that's case in Illinois, you deserve a Senator who embodies the opposite of everything you believe in simply cause his opponent was born in Illinois. Well I have news for you - neither was Abraham Lincoln.
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