In September of 2011, Andrew Breitbart brought his fiery rhetoric to a receptive crowd of more than 500 people, mostly Tea Party Patriots, at the University of Redlands.
He was greeted with enthusiasm.
So it was a great shock to many to learnthat , a crusader for conservative causes and values, died overnight as he walked near his Los Angeles home, according to the Associated Press.
“He was so passionate and energetic,” said Phillip Naman, a member of the Redlands Tea Party Patriots and co-organizer of the Sept. 15 Breitbart event at U of R. “He didn’t look sick at all.”
The few times he did speak to him, Naman said Breitbart was always on the go. “He was always doing two or three things at once. He was never resting, never settling down.”
Age 43 is really young, Naman said.
“God has given us all X number of days -- that’s it,” Naman said. “We’re here to serve Him until that point in time.”
Breitbart had as many detractors as he had fans. He was an Internet publisher and author, and often raised the ire of the liberal side of the political spectrum. Many like Phill Courtney, a columnist who ran for congress in Riverside County as a Green Party candidate in 1998 and 2002, said he was angered by a lot of Breitbart’s rhetoric. Still he was shocked by his death.
“I hadn’t been thinking about him in quite a while,” Courtney said. Coincidentally Breitbart’s name had come up Wednesday night because friends had mentioned attending the candidate forum hosted by the Tea Party, he said.
Courtney attended the Breitbart lecture in September. During the question and answer period, Courtney had an outburst after he said his anger and frustration with the speaker bubbled over. The memory came back when someone mentioned the forum.
“I had one of those moments when they brought him up,” he said.
Breitbart had been a key figure in several high profile controversies, including the one that led to the eventual dissolution of Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN. He was also involved in the downfall of Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York who resigned after a sex scandal.
Breitbart described himself as a converted liberal. He was the adopted child of a family who were surrounded by a Hollywood lifestyle, he said. He would learn to reject those views and become a conservative. He often bristled when he was called a racist because his sister was Hispanic, he told the Redlands crowd.
Loma Linda Patch attended the event. An audio of that night’s address is included with this story.