Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally came to a peaceful and orderly conclusion on Saturday evening, and by now, most of the event’s attendees are back in their hometowns. So, fervent controversy over the specifics of the event – which, as Beck promised, contained few overt political statements, albeit with partisan overtones – should be quieting down too, right?
Not for the crowd estimators, it ain’t.
Estimates of just how many people attended Saturday’s event have varied from modest calculations of under 90,000 to brassy declarations of over a million.
CBS News, which hired company AirPhotosLive.com to conduct an estimate, put the tally at around 87,000. One park service official told NBC News that the number was somewhere around 300,000. (The National Park Service no longer issues official crowd estimates after it was pilloried for allegedly miscalculating attendance at the 1995 Million Man March.)
Beck himself told the crowd that he’d seen estimates that “between 300,000 and 500,000” people showed up. Sarah Palin told POLITICO’s Jonathan Martin that she was disappointed by an Associated Press description of the “tens of thousands” of ralliers, adding that she believed turnout to have been over 100,000.
And, at a rally piggybacking off of the Restoring Honor event, Minnesota congresswoman and Tea Party darling Rep. Michele Bachmann challenged anyone who calculated Beck’s audience at anything less than seven digits. “We're not going let anyone get away with saying there were less than a million here today because we were witnesses," Bachmann said.
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. But, regardless of the precise number, the crowd stretching from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to beyond the World War II Memorial was most certainly a sobering sight for Democrats.
Although Beck supporters at the event offered mostly vague notions of exactly what the nation as a whole must restore or recapture, all of those that Msnbc.com interviewed were adamant that they hope to vote “liberals” and “career politicians” out of office in the upcoming midterm elections.
“We've been sitting on the couch too long," said Bobbi Janson from Allentown, Penn. “We’ve got to get this message out.”