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Thousands gather for 'One Nation' rally in D.C.

Event serves in part of as counter-rally to Glenn Beck's last month

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Image: A woman and man make peace signs as thou
Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images
A woman and man make peace signs as thousands of activists attend the "One Nation Working Together" rally on the National Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument in Washington on
By PHILIP ELLIOTT
The Associated Press
updated 2 hours 59 minutes ago

Tapping into the same anger that fuels the tea party movement, a coalition of progressive and civil rights groups marched Saturday on the Lincoln Memorial and pledged to support Democrats struggling to keep power on Capitol Hill.

"We are together. This march is about the power to the people," said MSNBC host Ed Schultz. "It is about the people standing up to the corporations. Are you ready to fight back?"

In a fiery speech that opened the "One Nation Working Together" rally on the National Mall, Schultz blamed Republicans for shipping jobs overseas and curtailing freedoms. He borrowed some of conservative commentator Glenn Beck's rhetoric and vowed to "take back our country."

"This is a defining moment in America. Are you American?" Schultz told the raucous crowd of thousands. "This is no time to back down. This is time to fight for America."

With a month of campaigning to go and voter unhappiness high, the Democratic-leaning organizers hope the four-hour program of speeches and entertainment energizes activists who are crucial if Democrats are to retain their majorities in the House and Senate. The national mood suggests gains for the GOP, and Republicans are hoping to ride voter anger to gain control of the House and possibly the Senate.

Organizers insist the rally is not partisan. They say the message is about job creation, quality education and justice. However, the largest organizations, such as the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union, tend to back Democratic candidates.

And the first speakers hardly shied from criticizing Republicans.

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"They want to change this country," Schultz warned participants of Republicans.

More than 400 organizations — ranging from labor unions to faith, environmental and gay rights groups — partnered for the event, which comes one month after Beck packed the same space with conservatives and tea party-style activists.

Beck and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin gathered near the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech to urge a vast crowd to embrace traditional values. Though also billed as nonpolitical, the rally was widely viewed as a protest against the policies of President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.

One Nation organizers said they began planning their event before learning about Beck's rally, and said Saturday's march is not in reaction to that.

Obama was spending the weekend at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Democrats hope D.C. rally gets voters to polls

  1. Closed captioning of: Democrats hope D.C. rally gets voters to polls

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    >>> back in this country tonight, we're exactly one month away from the midterm congressional elections and amid signs democrats are facing an uphill battle to hold ground, thousands of party liberals "todapaid borrowed a page from the tea party movement.

    >> reporter: good evening, lester, before this march, organizers have said it's not about comparing themselves to the tea party or recent marches that have happened here on the national mall . but as the day wore on, it became clear that these marches had one thing in common with conservatives, and that is frustration and anger with washington politics. this time it was a show of strength from the left, an attempt to change the story line this campaign season.

    >> they had their turn, it's our turn now.

    >> reporter: one nation working together, today thousands streamed past national monuments to gather at the lincoln let me moral.

    >> we're going to do exactly what we did. we're going to unify and continue the struggle for working families .

    >> reporter: today liberals said they too are angry about the direction of the country.

    >> we bailed out the banks, we bailed out the insurance companies , now it's time to bail out the american people .

    >> reporter: but with election day exactly one month from today speaker after speaker called on democratic voters to go to the polls.

    >> we marched too long for the vote, bled too much and died too young, don't give up now. stand up and fight back.

    >> reporter: with voter apathy a continuing concern for democrats, president obama has launched a series of rallies for party faithful, asking for more time to address core concerns while also touting his record on everything from health care to student loan reform.

    >> and they have a right to be impatient about the pace of change. i'm impatient. but i also know this, now is not the time to quit. now is not the time to give up.

    >> reporter: with their party expected to make major gains in congress, republicans sought to keep the heat on.

    >> we have seen a republican party basically tune out the people that elected them and advance a plan that most americans vehemently oppose.

    >> reporter: democrats are struggling to come to grips with voter unrest.

    >> what you have now is an electorate that's angry in many ways and disappointed in the way things are going and candidates are able to tap into that anger by seeming to reflect it.

    >> reporter: and lester, president obama and the first lady were at camp david "todatoday during all this. we has invited all of his cabinet secretaries for a day-long retreat.

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