Santelli Defends Tea Party Candidates against Elite Inside-the-Beltway Wisdom

The Washington, D.C. establishment finds it disturbing that there is a brand of non-elite political hopefuls running in races across the country this election year.

David Gregory explored this notion with the so-called “father of the Tea Party,” Rick Santelli on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Oct. 24. According to Gregory, the rise of candidates like Delaware Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell is not a good thing because of her interpretation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“The vulnerability and the strength of the tea party in this race – Rick Santelli, everyone knows, of course, you are, though you're, you're a mild-mannered man, but you are the father of the Tea Party, as you sit there,” Gregory said. “Look at some of the impact, the Delaware senate race, Chris Coons, Christine O'Donnell, she was supported by the Tea Party, Sarah Palin – by the way, this is not a close race. She's way behind. You wouldn't know that by all the attention it's getting. And some of her statements in the course of this campaign, beyond having to say that she was not a witch in a campaign ad, she's gotten a lot of attention for – this debate about the First Amendment, whether she understood really what was in the First Amendment, separation of church and state. Does she hurt the Republican brand as someone who a lot of people feel is not qualified to be a Senator?”

O’Donnell’s statement has been a talking point for many of her detractors, but her point was that technically “separation of church and state” is not in the Constitution.

Nonetheless, CNBC’s Santelli explained that O’Donnell likely isn’t the only member of Congress not to have a satisfactory working knowledge of the Constitution. In fact, he explained a record amount of legislation has passed in the Congress with members not even reading the bills.

“I think that there's been a lot of people in Congress that didn't know all the ins-and-outs of the Constitution,” Santelli said. “I think we have a whole roomful of people that have record legislation in terms of quantity of pages that didn't read it.” 

Santelli went on to defend the Tea Party movement saying, “Who am I to say or, or put words in the mouth of the electorate in Delaware? I think that the Tea Party movement is terrific. It's created discourse that might not have otherwise occurred.  It's happened in breakneck speed against all odds. Neither of the media, left or right, I think, really were very happy that they showed up on the doorstep. And as far as O'Donnell, you know, she's a lot more normal, less elite, and I think she's going to make mistakes. Whether she has or not, is not for me to say, but the tea party's going to be – the movement's going to be messy because you're bringing in outsiders.”