Encouraged by cheers, whistles and shouts of "Amen," speakers Friday evening expounded on the failure of national government and called on Tea Party members to "Save Our Republic."
The rally formed up a "Liberty Line" at 4:30 p.m. along Paul Bunyan Drive, waving flags, hoisting placards and waving to passing traffic. At 5:30 p.m., a series of speakers described the dangers they believe are facing the United States.
The Tea Party also invited young people to write essays on the meaning of the republic to them. Mara Cobb, 11, read her essay saying the United States must return to the basic concept of a republic.
"I guess we can do it if we put our shoulders to the plow and take our republic back," she said.
"We are going to talk today about saving our republic," said Ken Cobb, chairman of the Beltrami County Republicans. "I happen to believe the republic is worth saving. Do you?"
After his introduction was greeted by cheers from the ralliers, Al Berkowitz answered his title question of "Why Save Our Republic."
He quoted Abraham Lincoln's phrase in an 1862 speech to Congress referring to the Union as "the last, best hope on earth." He cited the Americans who fought for freedom worldwide and at home. And he reminded the audience that "There are others who look to America with hate."
Berkowitz also called on the audience to pass along the republic to future generations.
Lee Byberg, who ran in 2010 on the Republican ticket for Congress from Minnesota's Seventh District and plans to run again in 2012, spoke on "What if We Don't Save Our Republic."
"The story of the United States of America is a unique story we've been blessed to live," he said.
He said less that 2 percent of people worldwide have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
He also called on the audience to pass their heritage of freedom down to future generations.
"We need to bless them with this knowledge," Byberg said. "Talking about not transforming the nation but restoring the republic."
Cobb concluded the speeches with a strong denunciation of the president, Congress and the Supreme Court.
He said as soon as a member of Congress takes the oath of office to uphold the Constitution, he returns to his office "to plot with his staff how quickly he can break the oath. They are the enemies they are supposed to be defending us against.
He said those who "howled" that it was time wasting to read the Constitution in January in the U.S. House were disrespecting the Constitution.
Cobb referred to President Barack Obama as a socialist and was rewarded with a chorus of "no" when he asked if the audience members think the Supreme Court will save the republic.
In conclusion, Cobb asked those who were ready to save the republic to raise their right hands and take the oath: "I do solemnly swear that I will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic, so help me God."
As the oath concluded, Cobb told the gathering, "Congratulations. You can save America."
A few young men who were not Tea Party affiliates also attended the rally, and at least one, Bemidji State University student Jeron Adams, tried to challenge the speakers and stayed to argue with Tea Party followers as the crowd broke up.
"This is ridiculous," said BSU student Brian Robinson. "I think these people have the complete opposite view because they are fed through a media source that is lying to them."
As for saying members of Congress plot to break their oath of office, Robinson said such a statement struck him as unpatriotic.