Rock star and political firebrand Ted Nugent spoke Saturday to an appreciative crowd at the Tea Party rally in Emblem.
Nugent, politically outspoken and known for his controversial comments and Second Amendment activism, took the opportunity during the Big Horn Basin Tea Party picnic in Emblem to defend recent contentious comments, as well as encourage political participation.
“What we’ll focus on is that the good still outweighs the bad and the ugly,” Nugent said.
Most of his comments were politically charged, but Nugent also found the opportunity to make the crowd laugh during his half-hour speech.
An estimated 300 people attended the event.
When booked for the rally, Nugent was scheduled to perform two shows Aug. 2-3 at Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Wash.
Those shows were canceled about 10 days ago by Puyallup Tribe officials because of alleged racist remarks made by Nugent, and threats from tribal members who demanded the cancellation.
Nugent – who sat through most of his talk because of recent double knee-replacement surgery – is still defending comments he made in July.
Following protests at an Oshkosh, Wis., concert, the Appleton, Wis., Post-Crescent reported Nugent said:
“I take it as a badge of honor that such unclean vermin are upset by me and my positive energy ... By all indicators, I don’t think they actually qualify as people, but there has always been a lunatic fringe of hateful, rotten, dishonest people that hate happy, successful people.”
The comments caused a Native-American casino in Idaho to cancel his concert planned there last week.
Nugent said Saturday the comments, specifically “unclean vermin,” were taken out of context.
“Groups bus protesters in,” Nugent said. “The protesters are so stoned and delirious, they still wear their American Communist badges.
“They’re not locals protesting my concerts shouting ‘racist, pedophile, draft dodger,’” Nugent said.
“Communist badges, Rastafarian rat nests – I called them ‘unclean vermin’ and I was accurate.
“The left media took my statement accurately and honestly identifying deceiving protesters paid for by the Southern Poverty Law Center, moveon.org and the Huffington Post.”
The comment then was wrongly reported as aimed at Native Americans, Nugent says.
“The media took that statement and said I said that about my Native American blood brothers, with whom I have had a wonderful, brotherhood relationship for more than 45 years,” he said.
“There’s not a tribe in this country that hasn’t invited me to their reservation to teach their children about being clean and sober, to aim small, miss small, and the history of hands-on conservation.
“I am the best friend to the Native Americans,” Nugent said.
“It doesn’t bother me on a personal level – the more idiots hate me, the better my guitar playing gets.”
Nugent spoke about political action through communication with lawmakers, and advocated for the National Rifle Association.
He encouraged reaching out to family and friends.
“I’ve been doing it nonstop – every tour, every night, every hunting camp, every Thanksgiving dinner, everywhere I go,” Nugent said. “I try not to bring too much anguish from the culture war during family-fun times, but I make sure everybody at my table is a member of the NRA, I make sure everybody at my table is in communication with their senators and congressmen and their mayors, and governors and the White House.
“The reason America is a hellhole on the fast track to spiritual suicide is because those of us who know better and put our hearts and souls into being the best Americans we can, it is so foreign to us that we would have to support the right to keep and bear arms that many of us don’t,” he said.
“It’s a daily responsibility, and because we didn’t following World War II, instead of maintaining quality control and participation in the sacred experimentation of self-government ... damage control is 1,000 times the effort (of quality control). I’m up to 1,000 times the effort.
“Take this bull by the horns,” he said. “Don’t take it for granted.”
Anecdotally, Nugent described a husband complaining about his wife not supporting the same causes.
“It’s your wife – fix her or replace her,” Nugent said. “If you can’t fix your immediate family, how do you expect to win at the voting booth?”
Nugent commented on Attorney General Eric Holder.
“Our attorney general – the top law enforcement agent in America – is a racist, gun-running felon,” Nugent said to applause.
He also commented on President Obama and political apathy.
“The curse of this country isn’t Obama, it’s those of us who knew he was a community-organizer scammer, and that he doesn’t have the credentials to drive my tour bus. He’s a bad man and he represents communism, he represents socialism, and his entire history is rife with anti-American, anti-freedom, anti-Constitution, anti-independence and anti-entrepreneurial – and we still elected him,” Nugent said. “He’s not the enemy, the non-voters are and your friends who were too busy to vote are the enemy.”
Nugent received a favorable response from those attending the rally.
Dave Rose of Powell owns an audio and video transfer business, and said Nugent addressed important issues.
“He was a powerful and motivating speaker and he addressed the core issues that are important to America – the culture war, and the abuse of power in our government,” Rose said.
Michelle Burns of Greybull, the Big Horn County attorney, thought Nugent was well informed.
It was her first time at a Tea Party rally.
“This was pretty much in line with what I thought it would be,” Burns added.
Not everyone in Wyoming was excited about Nugent’s visit.
When the Enterprise first reported Nugent was scheduled to speak at the rally, the story received numerous negative, anonymous comments online.
John Clark was disappointed by the decision to invite Nugent.
“As a person born in the Big Horn Basin, enlisted in the Army and having served in Vietnam – it makes me want to puke thinking the people in the basin are allowing this draft dodger to put a foot on the ground in the basin,” he wrote online.
Another user said she wouldn’t attend the event.
Most elected officials who attended the event held a neutral view.
As planned, Nugent left by 2 p.m. following a brief question and answers session with the crowd.