You might expect people who turn out on a cold Sunday evening for something called the Ronald Reagan Rally for Conservatives to hear that their side scored big when Republican Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat held so long by Ted Kennedy.
But keynote speaker Alan Keyes denounced Brown as being too liberal on health care. Nearly everyone else was too liberal, too. The audience applauded that and virtually everything else he said. There were calls of "Yes!" and "That's right" from the crowd of several hundred people at the Lexington Christian Academy on West Reynolds Road.
Keyes is a conservative's conservative. He used to work in the Reagan administration. He has a string of unsuccessful runs for the White House and the Senate (the latest Senate run was in 2004, against Barack Obama).
Most of his 45-minute talk was delivered in a shout as he paced the stage, speaking without notes.
Along the way, he found enough liberal tendencies to disqualify every one of the group of people who aspired to be the Republican Party's nominee in the 2008 presidential race.
He criticized conservative television commentators Glen Beck (because Beck made fun of "birthers," the people who, like Keyes, won't accept that Obama is really president until they see his birth certificate). He criticized Sean Hannity (who, after all, has supported California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger).
He considered Trey Grayson and Rand Paul, two of the three candidates vying for the Republican nomination to replace Sen. Jim Bunning, and found them wanting.
"I don't care what label these elite leaders now wear," Keyes said. "I don't care if they call themselves Democrat or Republican or...Communist, they're all leading us down the same road, and that road leads to the loss of liberty and the destruction of our entire way of life," he yelled.
Then, in a softer voice, the kicker: "And they're not doing it because they have to, they're doing it because they want to."
If the Republicans had any nerve, he said, they would make opposition to same sex marriage an issue in every election. Why don't they? he asked the crowd.
"Cowards," came the reply.
Too often, Keyes said, conservative voters have settled for the lesser of two evils at the polls. And that, he says, must stop.
It turns out, he said, that conservatives in Kentucky have a chance to stop that this year, by voting for Western Kentucky businessman Bill Johnson, a third candidate in that Republican Senate primary.
Johnson, who sponsored the rally, has been endorsed by Keyes.
In a speech before he introduced Keyes, Johnson described himself as pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-family. If elected, he said, he would work to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and the Department of Interior.
"I'm a life-long conservative and I believe in the three "Rs: Ronald Reagan Republican," Johnson said.
Johnson said he has spent $130,000 — about half his life's savings, on the campaign. He's prepared to spend the other half, he said.
"I can always get another job," he said. "But I can't find another country."