Protesters carried signs bearing messages such as "Congress is America's #1 Enemy" and "Don't Tread on Me." Speakers included Republican senators Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Johnny Isakson of Georgia.
Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, radio host Laura Ingraham and officials from conservative organizations also spoke against the Senate's health care reform efforts.
"We gather today with a very simple message for this president and for Majority Leader Harry Reid," said Tim Phillips, president of conservative group Americans for Prosperity. "Keep your hands off our health care!"
Later, Bachmann said that the current health care proposal would create an "iron ceiling" on wages for middle-class Americans. She called for the public to protest the bill until the Senate dropped it.
"Was Joe Wilson right?" she asked, as the crowd roared back in the affirmative. "Let's tell them once and for all: kill the bill!"
The speakers made a number of comparisons in discussing the health care situation. Bachmann referenced a Tennyson poem, "The Light Brigade." Burr paraphrased and added a twist to a famous FDR quote, saying, "You only have one thing to fear: Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid."
Ingraham likened Harry Reid to the Grinch who stole Christmas ("I have a story to tell you. It's called 'How the Democrats Stole Health Care,'" she said), before appropriating a poem about Nazis.
Former House Republican leader Dick Armey of the lobbying group FreedomWorks and a pair of Tea Party Patriot coordinators also spoke at the protest. The tea party's planned "die-in" this morning apparently didn't go quite as planned, though the group did perform a unique number, "12 Days of Obama," a spin on "12 Days of Christmas," for the media.
Republicans are hoping to harness the enthusiasm of grassroots conservatives in their efforts to win back seats in the 2010 midterm elections. In the meantime, group leaders at the rally urged the public to take action and fight government involvement in the health care industry.
"If we stop this health care bill we can stop [Obama's] takeover of the American economy," DeMint said. "And we cannot fall for anymore of these promises that he has not kept… This health care bill is important but it's not just about health care."