The crowd stretched from the memorial to the base of the Washington Monument, about a mile away, as Beck took the stage after the singing of the national anthem.
"Hello, America. I have just gotten word from the media that there is over a thousand people here today," Beck said, with a hint of sarcasm. He later said he had heard the crowd was between 300,000 and 500,000, "and if that's coming from the media, God only knows."
While influential conservative groups and politicians had endorsed or supported the event, Republican party leaders carefully avoided it.