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Glenn Beck Rips Progressivism at CPAC

Glenn Beck

Feb. 20: Glenn Beck delivers keynote address at CPAC. (AP)

Fox News host Glenn Beck, armed with his trademark chalkboard, blamed "progressivism " for America's problems Saturday in his keynote speech that brought the annual Conservative Political Action Conference to a close.

The chalkboard, a prop that he uses frequently on his top-rated show, brought the audience to its feet. Beck wrote "Progressivism" on it to underscore his belief in what America is suffering from.

When Beck asked what America is suffering from, someone shouted "President Obama," though Beck, an outspoken critic of the president, said it's "not that simple."

Beck rejected the notion that the Republican Party should expand its tent to include progressives.

"What is this? A circus?" he said, drawing laughter. "America is not a clown show. America is an idea that sets people free."

Opening up about his troubled past, Beck told the crowd, "People need to understand that life is not fair. The bad guy sometimes wins."

The speech capped three days of panel discussions and high-profile speakers, including numerous politicians mentioned as contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. But for a lot of the CPAC attendees, Beck was the reason they came, as he is seen as a leader in the new conservative movement.

The speech comes after a year in which Beck's growing popularity as a Fox News host coincided with the rise of the Tea Party Movement and populist rage directed at Washington. Beck also launched the 9/12 Project, which sets forth nine values and 12 principles that he believes the country was founded upon. The project inspired a major march in Washington in September.

"This is how is America should be," said Cynthia Burgiss, 22, a student at the University of Dayton in Ohio who attended the 9/12 march in D.C. this year. "People of every race, political affiliation, religion came together for different reasons."

She was at CPAC to see Beck and called him a "relatable ... everyday guy."

"None of this would have happened without Glenn," she said.

Fox News' Shendy Hershfield contributed to this report.