Chris O'Meara / Associated Press (m9e4hbpd20120826211436/600 )
TAMPA, Fla. — Defeated Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain told a Tea Party Unity rally here Sunday night that the conservative movement they championed in the primary election season has lost none of its power and will be fully engaged in the fall campaign to defeat President Obama.
Bachmann told the rally of about 1,200 tea party activists gathered at the River Church that they had “already won” by forcing the Republican Party to adhere closely to the activists’ goals of small government and reduced taxes.
The Minnesota congresswoman had the crowd shouting along with her as she declared, “We are taxed enough already” -- a phrase some had turned into the acronym TEA -- and “We are going to take our country back!”
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Cain, the former pizza company executive, told the crowd, “Even though I am no longer seeking the office of president, I am still on a mission to defeat Barack Obama.”
Although his words sounded like a stump speech, Cain said he was not disappointed that his brief moment at the top of the polls for Republicans could not be sustained. “It’s not about me, it’s about my grandkids,” he thundered.
Cain also belittled an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that showed support for presumptive Reublican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at 0% “amongst my black people.”
“My response was, 'I am not a zero,' " Cain shouted, “and my black conservative friends are not zeros.” Then, pointing to other African Americans in the mostly white crowd, he shouted, “You’re not a zero, you’re not a zero, your’re not a zero.”
He said an unnamed "they" — presumably the "lamestream" media he mentioned often in the speech — put out such polls “to divide us.” The author of the 9-9-9 tax plan said four more years of Obama would be a "nightmare” that would continue to "intimidate" business owners.
"Businesses, and rightly so, are stalled because of all the uncertainty in the economy coming out of this administration," he said. "When you have an administration that tries to intimidate businesses and intimidate sectors of this economy, no person in their right mind will try to expand their business. They use intimidation in order to try to destroy this country."
Cain thanked the Florida crowd, which he said had propelled his surge in the presidential primary season, when he won a straw poll in the state. But after that success, several women made accusations that Cain had been aggressive with them in sexually charged encounters, which he referred briefly to Sunday as when he got "out of the race because of lies and dirty politics."
But Cain echoed Bachmann in saying, "We the people are still in charge of this country."
Cain, who closed out the more than two-hour event of about a dozen speakers, said Obama could offer only "distractions, distortions and divisions."
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In the lobby of the church, several groups handed out literature and hawked conservative-themed merchandise. The most eye-catching of the works was by painter Jon McNaughton. It showed a shadowy Obama figure holding copy of the Constitution, set aflame. In the flames the word "obey" appears and, in the crumpled document, one can discern a hammer and sickle -- symbol of the old Communist Soviet Union.
The print, a part of McNaughton's "Nation Under Socialism" series -- sold for $69. The artist's work comes highly praised in the eyes of the tea party crowd -- recommended by Sean Hannity and mocked by Stephen Colbert.
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