Van Jones praises tea party, announces progressive ‘support centers’

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Former White House official, ex-9/11 truther and environmental advocate Van Jones gave a shout-out to the tea party movement Monday at the progressive “Take Back the American Dream Conference” in Washington, D.C.

“We have the wrong theory of the presidency … [while tea party groups] are very adult about charisma and leadership,” he said during his keynote speech to the event at the Washington Hilton.

Progressives groups “affiliated with” Obama, he said, but the tea party movement built a network around a “brand” that united various political groups, which he described as ‘No!,’ ‘Get Out!,’ ‘Be Afraid!’ and ‘Lock Them Up.’

He then made his own announcement — the formation of his progressive “support center” which he said is modeled on the tea party’s support centers, such as FreedomWorks.

Van Jones’ counterpart is called Rebuild the Dream.

“I guess he understands that we’re effective,” said Brendan Steinhauser, the director of federal and state campaigns at FreedomWorks. But Van Jones doesn’t understand the tea party movement emerged from Middle America’s disgust towards both parties’ policies, he said.

“It is a very American movement,” he said. “We’re ‘No’ against the left-wing agenda … [we believe] ‘Be Afraid’ of big government, of your liberty being destroyed, of failed policies … ‘Lock them up’? I’ve no idea what he’s talking about  there,” said Steinhauser.

Van Jones’ speech also included a string of crowd-pleasing one-liners and served as an introduction to the varied leaders of a new progressive coalition, the American Dream movement.

Following Obama’s election, progressives “went from hopey to mopey” and now have “low self-esteem,” he said. However, they’re learning to organize and push for their goals, he said. “You can have a crappy president [and] if you’ve got a strong movement, you can get the job done,” he declared.

For the last few months, “the White House is talking differently because we are walking differently,” he declared to applause from the crowd. (RELATED: Van Jones: Stop worrying about the deficit. The government can just take more money from rich companies)

Jones’ speech earned him praise from fellow progressives. His keynote speech, was “simply the best I have ever heard from a young American leader,” gushed Carl Pope, head of the Sierra Club, which is a member of the new coalition.

Van Jones’ lunchtime event ended with a song by singer Maimouna Youssef, who sang a esteem-boosting song from the stage;

“You are the one that feeds the fire and keeps on fighting,

You have the strength and courage of a lion…

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

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