DENVER– The Tea Party Express tour (part three) has rolled into town and is holding a rally at the capitol here. The tour is hitting states where Congressional seats are in play and those include seats held by Colorado Democratic Reps Betsy Markey and John Salazar, both called out after their votes in favor of health care reform by Sarah Palin, who seems lately to be solidifying her place at the top of the Tea Party celebrity heap. There are rumors in the crowd here as there were in the capitol hallways today that Palin might speak to the Denver crowd even though it’s not one of the two stops on the tour at which she is scheduled to appear.
There’s a buzz rippling through the crowd and the sun has come out. There is a helicopter circling somewhere above. There are roughly 300 of us on the lawn around the west steps under the dome. There’s a lot of media.
One of the speakers is saying how fantastic it is that the Tea Party Express is getting so many hits on YouTube. Here’s a YouTube from the kickoff day in Nevada for those who haven’t seen it yet:
The Tea Party Express III website captures the mood pretty well:
At each stop the tour will highlight some of the worst offenders in Congress who have voted for higher spending, higher taxes, and government intervention in the lives of American families and businesses. These Members of Congress have infringed upon the freedom of the individual in this great nation, and its time for us to say: “Enough is Enough!”
Earlier, a small group of counter protesters was ousted by the police because they didn’t have a permit. This is a permit-only protest. Tea Partiers watching the counter protesters being hauled away were yelling at the police to stop violating First Amendment rights. They thought the police were dragging away Tea Partiers.
It wasn’t necessarily a senior moment, though. A notable thing about this Denver crowd is that, although it’s all white people and a few Asians– Colorado’s a white state anyway– there’s a fair number of late thirty- and forty-somethings. Look at the photos from Utah and you’ll see a difference.
As the Colorado Independent reported from a Loveland Tea Party CD4 debate last month, the Tea Party crowds here have gotten a shade younger. Not all white hairs but salt and pepper. That’s a change from the summer and fall.
A speaker– no one around me can tell me who he is– just said that Pres. Obama is turning the country socialist but that if he wants to live in a socialist country, all he has to do is follow the smell in the air of dead bodies and that will bring him to a socialist country. Did I hear that right? We’ll have to check the YouTube trail after the fact.
An even-tempered man tells me he’s new to politics but that he just felt like he wasn’t being represented in Washington and so he came out to the rally. He doesn’t have the money to go to the Tax Day stop in Washington. He is utterly sincere but his words are the same words spoken by people in countless Tea Party YouTubes, people quoted in countless stories like this one. The Tea party and its media channels have given him the words for how he feels– or told him how he feels– about politics or maybe even about life, it’s hard to tell.
First-term Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman just addressed the crowd. “Vote the Democrats out,” he said. Take back your country.
Tea Party stars making appearances on the tour have or will include Palin, Sam “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, right-wing media guru Andrew Breitbart, brassy shock columnist Ann Coulter, comedian-turned-wingnut Victoria Jackson and right-wing activist and Acorn-sting faux-prostitute Hannah Giles.
The Tea Party Express III will wend its way in the Tea Party Express luxury bus from today to Sunday through towns in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. On April 15, they arrive in Washington, for another Tea Party rally in the capital.
Update: Reportedly former Congressman and anti-illegal immigration hawk Tom Tancredo just spoke, fresh from a dramatic Tea Party tour of the borderlands in Arizona, where rancher Robert Krentz was killed by smugglers, Tancredo tweeting updates of the ultimately failed pursuit of the murderer. More updates to come.
As told to TCI Editor John Tomasic