"We're not trying to take back our country," Delaware's Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell said today. "We are our country."
Fresh off of her surprise primary victory this week, O'Donnell spoke before conservative voters at the Values Voter Summit, arguing that conservatives make up the majority but are oppressed by a small, ruling elite in Washington.
"They call us wacky, they call us wingnuts," she said. "We call us, we the people."
O'Donnell survived hard-hitting attacks from her own party during the primary and is now receiving increasing scrutiny for her financial problems and her past positions on social issues — including an opposition to masturbation she has since characterized as the result of youthful enthusiasm over her faith.
"Will they attack us? Yes," O'Donnell said today. "Will they lie about us, harrass our families? There's nothing safe about it."
O'Donnell received a warm welcome from the conservative crowd at the Values Voter summit, which featured several high profile Republicans, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence.
Numerous speakers praised O'Donnell and highlighted her campaign as a crucial to building a new Republican Senate majority. Conference-goers were encouraged to attend a fundraiser at the event for her.
"Is freedom worth it? Is America worth it?" O'Donnell asked. "Are those inalieanble rights worth a little alienation from the beltway crowd?"
She said that the economic hardship families are feeling has underscored the fiscal irresponsibility in Washington.
"The tax hikes coming in January are just another government bailout, except this time the government is bailing out itself," she said. "Politicians telling us we just need to spend more money to aovid bankruptcy…Americans no longer believe these tall tales."
O'Donnell harkened back to the days when President Obama was entering office, asking the audience to "remember the despondency… even a palpable fear for the future for our country."
She blasted the administration for enacting the "so-called stimulus… Obamacare, and the bailouts." She took issue with the "confusion" caused by the administration's strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and criticized its other national security moves.
Yet a silver lining emerged out of those "dark days," O'Donnell said, when patriotic Americans "stumbled upon the Constitution."
More from the Values Voter Summit:
Huckabee: We're in a Moral Crisis, Not a Fiscal Crisis
Health Care Repeal? Don't Hold Your Breath
Michele Bachmann Accuses Obama of "Infantilism"
Mitt Romney: Obama Presidency an "Abject Failure" and "Most Divisive in History"
Jim DeMint: Christine O'Donnell is the "Common Sense" Vote in Delaware
Rick Santorum: There Aren't Families in Poor Neighborhoods