Tea partiers vent views
In a gathering that was part revival, part political theater, part country music concert and part venting, about 800 people cheered and booed on cue at a Sherwood Park tea party Wednesday morning.
Conservatives gathered for an hour before the scheduled 10 a.m. arrival of the Tea Party Express, the three-bus tour that left Nevada on Saturday on its way to the culmination of the tour on April 15 in Washington, D.C.
Unlike most of the tea party participants, who tended to be at least four decades their elders, Adam McGovern of Collbran and Jacob Womack of Loma, both 14, joined the rally for the same reasons many of their elders cited:
“We’re here because we’re concerned about the future and our rights, which are under attack by the government,” McGovern said.
The two, each from ranching families on either end of the Grand Valley, know each other from the Civil Air Patrol, and they follow events on the radio.
Abortion, corruption and unwarranted federal activism fired him up to attend the tea party, Le Roy Hays of Loma said as the event began under cloudy skies and a brisk wind. The federal assault on childhood obesity is particularly unwarranted because “our government is so fat,” Hays said.
Speakers from western Colorado took regular aim at President Barack Obama, Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., whose 3rd Congressional District includes most of the Western Slope. They were frequent recipients, in absentia, of barbed comments, especially about health care.
“We have a nonrepresentative government shoving socialism down our throats,” speaker Jeff Leany shouted to cheers.
Cody Tisue, 18, a graduate of the Job Corps program in Collbran, carried a hand-lettered sign declaring, “Can’t find a job, thanks Obama.”
He’s been told by potential employers that they can’t hire him because of the amount of money they would have to pay for his health insurance, Tisue said.
Crowd members tapped their feet and waved bright-yellow “Don’t-tread-on-me” rattler flags as the Tea Party Express tour arrived and played songs such as, “I need a bailout.”
Even representatives of the Grand Junction Hooters restaurant in bright orange jumpsuits joined in with dancers on the makeshift stage in front of the south picnic shelter at the park.
Several tea partiers waved Grand Junction artist Karl Nicholasen’s political cartoons with unflattering portrayals of Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one a play on Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” and another depicting them as pimp and hooker.
He liked the spirit of the tea party, Nicholasen said, adding, “I hope it doesn’t get hijacked.”
“I just support our constitution, and our government is going against it,” said Liz Zeke, a 24-year-old juggling work and school at Mesa State College.
At least three Republican candidates, including Bob McConnell of Steamboat Springs, who is hoping to oppose Salazar in November, and two candidates vying for the Colorado House District 54 seat, David Cox and Bob Hislop, weaved through the crowd, wooing voters.
Susan Fedele waved a large sign declaring she and her five companions were from Moab, Utah, at the River of Life Alliance Church there.
“Bit by bit he (Obama) is taking our freedoms,” especially freedom of religion, Fedele said.
Fred Espinoza of Fruita used his day off to attend the tea party, he said, “because I’m not satisfied with the things that are happening.”
Organizers said 719 people signed up at the event for purposes of determining attendance, but many who did participate didn’t sign up.
After more than a two-hour stop, the Tea Party Express headed to Denver.