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Inside the Tea Party Rally for Joyce Kaufman

After all the drama and controversy surrounding conservative talk-show host Joyce Kaufman last week -- her accepting, then turning down, incoming Congressman Allen West's invitation to be his chief of staff, then a terrorist threat against Broward schools citing Kaufman -- local Tea Partiers held a rally supporting her this weekend.

It was at the site of her controversial Fourth of July remarks, at Oakland Park Boulevard and North Federal Highway. About 50 were there, many holding signs showing support for Kaufman or gloating about Tuesday's election.

Around 3 p.m., Kaufman arrived wearing hiking boots, camo pants, a T-shirt, and large sunglasses. She stood in the bed of a pickup truck -- the same truck she stood in July Fourth -- and thanked the crowd for supporting her during her recent hard times and for helping to get West elected. She referred to herself as a "kingmaker" and reiterated her belief that she has been a victim of an "electronic lynching by proxy."

She pointed out that the questionable statements were made several months ago, the day before her father died, and that they were taken completely out of context. She said that in 24 hours, her life was turned into complete chaos, calling the recent threats, which were reportedly made by someone displeased with Tuesday's election results, "completely disgusting."

"This is not about me," she said of the threats. "This is the first attack on this man [Allen West]." She called the incident "an attempt to try to make us look bad," adding, "We didn't fall into the trap!" She said she is remembering the individuals who have "demonized" her in the past few days, the columnists, the bloggers, and that she will call them out by name soon. She said she's already received an offer to write a book about her ordeal.

She recounted to the audience the story of how West first came to her after the 2008 election and asked how much she thought it would take to win the congressional seat. She said she was going to miss the chance to go to Washington, D.C., the chance to confront Barney Frank, the chance to see West talk to members of the Congressional Black Caucus. She said that she's spoken with West several times since turning down the job offer and that "he knows he has a mandate."

Kaufman closed out her speech with a reference to the recent remake of Clash of the Titans, telling the crowd to "unleash the Kraken." Then everyone removed their hats as a little girl sang the national anthem (and then "God Bless America"). A woman told the crowd that there would be an afterparty at the Jib Room -- "You can tell Joyce how much you love her there!" -- and that any members of the media were not invited.

After her speech, I spoke with Kaufman for a few minutes. She told me she was disappointed with New Times' recent coverage of her. "I expect better from you guys," she said, noting that she thought Amy Guthrie's profile of her was tough on her but ultimately fair (except the cover). She told me that if the recent threat against the school district had mentioned a liberal instead of her, it never would have made the news.

"It's insidious," she said. "It's just bad journalism."

She also hinted that the person behind the threat was a well-known, liberal female. "Wait until it comes out who's behind this," she said. "It will knock your socks off."

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Michael J. Mooney

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