Tim Burchett

Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., speaks at the monthly meeting of the Blount County Conservative Coalition.

U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., while addressing a crowd of supporters at the Blount County Public Library on Monday evening, decried vaccine mandates and Democrats he said were trying to end "our" way of life.

Burchett was the guest speaker at the Oct. 18 meeting of the Blount County Conservative Coalition.

"It's a pleasure being here with you. I'd like to tell you a little bit about myself and where I come from. I think it's important for you to know where I came from so you can kind of figure out why I act the way I act," Burchett told the crowd before launching into a story about his life growing up in Tennessee.

The comment elicited polite laughter from the crowd, setting a friendly and comfortable tone before the congressman launched into an assessment of recent events in Washington, D.C.

"Our nation is in a terrible struggle for survival right now," Burchett said. "Our way of life, our very foundation, is under attack by the left. It is nothing short of spiritual warfare."

Burchett went after Democrats on several fronts, including proposed vaccine mandates, infrastructure and public education.

"I stated the other day — and it caused a little firestorm on Twitter, which I said it to do just that, but it is the truth — I said 'you know, we ought to do away with the Department of Education,'" Burchett said to thunderous applause.

While Burchett's proposals were received warmly, any mention of President Joe Biden or Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi inspired groans and grumbles of disapproval from the crowd.

"Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden plan to bankrupt this country," Burchett said regarding proposed spending bills.

"They already have!" shouted an agitated member of the crowd.

"They're on their way," Burchett shot back.

The back and forth between Burchett and the audience was an aspect of the gathering that allowed the congressman to interact with constituents, but also provided some tense moments as the conservative crowd's frustrations with Washington began to boil over. 

Burchett pushed the crowd to get out and vote in next year's midterm election to help the GOP regain control of Congress. But many in the audience expressed skepticism around the voting process, questioning "election integrity."

The discussion around election integrity grew heated, with some in the crowd referencing the Jan. 6 insurrection and making mention of a new "Revolutionary War."

"I'm telling you, it's almost to arms. The people are ready to take up arms!" Blount County Commissioner Steve Mikels said. "On Jan. 6, we tried that. I was there! You know who was there? There was women and children. And they want to call us terrorists? Domestic terrorists?"

While Burchett appeared taken aback at times, the congressman was able to keep the crowd relatively calm. Following the meeting, Burchett said he understands the frustration that Blount County conservatives are feeling.

"I understand their passion and a lot of it has to do with frustration," Burchett said. "We've done a poor job in D.C. of responding to folks' needs and I hope we start addressing that. They are very worried about where our country is headed and they see us losing it — the country they grew up in — and I understand that completely."

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(1) comment

Neal

Great reporting. Thanks.

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