(T-G Photo by John I. Carney) [Order this photo]
Wurzelbacher, then a plumbing contractor employee, achieved national fame during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign after he asked a challenging question to candidate Barack Obama and was then nicknamed, and hailed, by the McCain-Palin ticket as an exemplar of the working man. Since then, he has published a book and appeared as a speaker and commentator.
Wurzelbacher told those attending Friday's event that they should not take their favorite conservative commentators' or pundits' word about the issues but should do their own research.
"You have responsibilities," said Wurzelbacher. He said his 12-year-old son expressed hatred of Democratic U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who represents Wurzelbacher's home district in Ohio, and when Wurzelbacher asked why the boy said that it was because he, the father, didn't like her. He said he told his son that was unacceptable and that the son should make such choices based on first-hand information.
He said the same applied to his endorsement of Zelenik.
"I'm not going to ask you to vote for her," he said. "I'm going to ask you to look her up."
After his presentation, Wurzelbacher told the Times-Gazette that previous reports that he had endorsed Dave Evans of Wartrace for the Sixth District seat were the result of a misunderstanding. Wurzelbacher said he had been speaking to a combat veterans' group where Evans was praised, and Wurzelbacher complimented Evans, not meaning for it to be a formal endorsement. A third party, said Wurzelbacher, told Evans that Wurzelbacher had endorsed him.
"I still think he's a good guy," said Wurzelbacher. He said he's spoken to Evans about the misunderstanding and it was resolved amicably.
Wurzelbacher told the audience that debate over individual issues could be a distraction from the underlying principles he said must be restored.
"I don't talk about the issues," Wurzelbacher told the group, "because that's your job."
Nevertheless, he did talk about some issues, criticizing President Obama for using his speech about the Gulf oil spill as an opportunity to promote the controversial "cap and trade" provisions for controlling carbon emissions.
"He was using that tragedy to make a political point," said Wurzelbacher.
Wurzelbacher called for a return to traditional values, saying that he and his family pray over meals even in restaurant settings when they know others are watching.
"I don't see it as a stand," said Wurzelbacher. "I'm more scared of God than I am of them." He urged his audience to take the same approach.
"You guys have got to stop being politically correct," he said.
He praised the Tea Party movement and said it crosses party and racial lines, and said reducing taxes would be good for the economy.
Zelenik noted her work in organizing an April 2009 Tea Party rally in Murfreesboro, just days after a tornado. She quoted Margaret Thatcher on the issue of government spending: "The problem with socialism," Thatcher said, "is you run out of other people's money."
"Ladies and gentlemen," said Zelenik, "we've run out of money."
Zelenik promised to oppose cap and trade and amnesty for illegal immigrants and to "oppose, repeal and defund" President Obama's health care plan, which she called a government takeover of health care.
"We're going to repeal Obamacare," she said.
She said she was "100 percent pro-life, 100 percent whole life," and criticized past state funding for Planned Parenthood.
Zelenik, a Murfreesboro resident and former chair of the Rutherford County Republican Party, said she lives on the south side of Murfreesboro and had eaten at the Bell Buckle Café many times before.