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Beck's "non-political" 8-28 rally steeped in politics

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Glenn Beck says his August 28 "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington, D.C., will be a "non-political" event. However, many aspects of the rally, including its promotion by Beck and allied conservative groups, have been explicitly political.

Beck claims 8-28 rally will be "non-political"

Beck: Rally about "First Amendment rights" and honoring the military. The web page for Beck's August 28 "Restoring Honor" rally in the National Mall in Washington, D.C., describes the event as a "non-political, non-partisan event" that "will recognize our First Amendment rights and honor the service members who fight to protect those freedoms." The rally will raise funds for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

Conservative groups deeply involved with 8-28

Tea Party Patriots providing staff, promotion. An August 24 Politico article reported that Beck requested that the conservative group assist with planning the rally:

At the request of Beck's team, which lacked the organizational infrastructure or logistical know-how to pull off Saturday's march, asked for assistance, Tea Party Patriots agreed to help promote the march among its 500,000 email subscribers and to provide 400 volunteers to staff it, a requirement before the National Park Service would issue a permit.

National Rifle Association sponsoring, promoting the event. As Media Matters noted, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence reported that the NRA shipped copies of its news magazine with advertisements for Beck's 8-28 rally.

FreedomWorks to cater to attendees' "political" interests. According to a July 17 Politico article reported that Beck had "offered assurances" to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation that "he will leave his politically charged rhetoric behind" for the rally, but will nonetheless encourage attendees interested in politics to join the right-wing group FreedomWorks, which is chaired by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey:

Instead, the plan is for Beck to tell rally attendees that, if they want to get involved in politics, they should sign up with FreedomWorks, said the group's president Matt Kibbe, who has appeared on Beck's radio show since FreedomWorks became a sponsor to talk tea party politics with Beck.

"This is about cultural renewal and a lot of the themes that he talks about on his show," Kibbe said of the August rally. "He'll go on to say, 'but we do need to organize and we do need to get politically active, and that's why I've joined forces with FreedomWorks, because they're the guys out there doing this, and I've looked around, and they're the best at what they do.'"

Americans for Prosperity providing buses to rally. Politico reported on August 24 that the Americans for Prosperity, a major conservative political organization backed by right-wing billionaire David A. Koch of the oil giant Koch Industries, "moved its annual Washington training session to correspond with Beck's rally and are offering to bus attendees to it." According to Politico:

"We very much appreciate and support Glenn's general message that he puts forth on a daily basis ... He consistently espouses free market views and views that espouse what the founders thought," said AFP President Tim Phillips. "It's a good message -- and so whatever direction he chooses to take with this day and this march, we support it."

FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots, hosting their own corresponding events. Politico also reported on July 17 that FreedomWorks and the Tea Party Patriots are "taking advantage of the expected crowds" at Beck's rally "to hold their own events." According to the article: "FreedomWorks' political action committee is holding a fundraiser and get-out-the-vote training session the night before Beck's rally, and the Tea Party Patriots are urging the 500,000 activists on their e-mail list to attend both Beck's rally and a tea party rally the following day to seek the repeal of the Democratic health care overhaul."

Sarah Palin will speak at rally

Palin a featured speaker at the 8-28 rally. On May 26, Beck announced that he had "selected" Sarah Palin to speak at the 8-28 rally "not for political reasons at all but because I think she understands duty and honor":

BECK: To bring on the medal of honor winners along with Gary Sinise will be somebody that I selected that I, not for political reasons at all but because I think she understands duty and honor, I think she understands what it's like -- the first people that we have to point out before we go into the badge of merit are the people that have done remarkable things in wartime. She has a son who is serving currently. Sarah Palin will also be joining.

Palin inextricably linked to GOP politics. After running as the Republican nominee for vice president in 2008 and serving half a term as Alaska's Republican governor, Palin has remained deeply involved in national GOP politics. Following the June 8 elections, several media outlets credited Palin's endorsements of various Republican candidates as critical to their primary victories. A June 24 ABC article reported: "Though she currently holds no political office, the former Alaska governor has emerged as a key player in some of the most contentious races. Her endorsements -- mostly done informally via Facebook and Twitter -- have sparked instant media attention and, in some cases, significantly boosted a candidate's popularity. Several of Palin's previously unknown picks have gained national attention."

Palin's political action committee, SarahPAC, has donated over $125,000 to federal candidates in the 2010 election cycle, every one of them a Republican.

Palin is a wildly polarizing political figure. As Greg Sargent of the Washington Post's The Plum Line blog noted, a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that Palin, while popular among "GOP primary voters," is "toxic" among "the broader electorate." The poll asked respondents to gauge their response to various attributes Congressional candidates might have, and 52 percent said they would have "some reservations about" or be "very uncomfortable with" Palin's endorsement of a candidate (just 25 percent said they'd be "enthusiastic" or "comfortable" with her endorsement).

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