Tea party rally denounces government bailouts
Hoisting signs and occasionally waving flags, tea party enthusiasts and their candidates vowed Sunday to wrest control of the U.S. from politicians they painted as greedy and dishonest and give it back to the citizens.
Several hundred people turned out on a warm day at Grand Junction’s Sherwood Park to cheer and applaud a slate of speakers that included five candidates for local, state and federal office, military veterans and members of GJResult.com, a tea party-related organization.
Those who stood at the podium — and occasionally shouted into a microphone — denounced the growing federal deficit, government bailout programs and illegal immigration, and advocated for smaller government and political transparency.
Tim Fenwick, a member of GJResult.com’s board of directors, told gatherers that voters, not elected Democrats, are to blame for the wrong direction in which he and others believe the country is headed.
“We let these rotten cockroach politicians in the front door,” Fenwick said, referring specifically to President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, U.S. Rep John Salazar and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter. “Now we gotta run them back out.”
Nicole Johnson, a 37-year-old Parachute woman, said she showed up at Sunday’s rally “because I’m tired of the government.”
“I’m tired of them trying to take away our rights, (their) dishonesty, (their) shadiness,” said Johnson, who attended with her brother-in-law.
Mitch Johnson, 52, was visiting family on the Western Slope and said he had previously attended tea party events in Kanab, Utah, and his hometown of Spokane, Wash.
U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck, gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes, 3rd Congressional District candidate Bob McConnell and House District 54 candidate Ray Scott, all Republicans, and Mesa County Commission candidate Stephen Saint, a Libertarian, took turns at the microphone.
“We need to send a conservative to Washington, not a Republican,” Buck told the crowd. “Principle over party.”
If elected governor, Maes said, he would downsize state government and “beg forgiveness from the energy industry that Bill Ritter single-handedly chased out of Colorado.” He also called for the deportation of illegal immigrants.
“You, not Barack Hussein Obama, are the change we can believe in,” Scott said.
Saint, who will challenge Commissioner Steve Acquafresca in November, accused the current board of commissioners of being driven by special interests and outside parties.
“It should be people, not politicians, leading us down a road — a road to success,” he said.
Bud Franz, 76, of Grand Junction, stood near the back of the crowd, holding a sign that read “Socialism is not the change we want/give us honesty.” The Korean War veteran and former Marine said he believes the country is in decline because “people want something for nothing as long as someone else provides it.”
“It scares the heck out of me,” he said.
At the beginning of the rally, Fenwick tried to discourage people wandering through the crowd from distributing literature that wasn’t available at established tents and tables. Referring to people holding signs supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis, Fenwick told gatherers McInnis’s supporters don’t represent the tea party.
“You have to follow the money trail to understand what the tea party is all about. We’re a grassroots organization,” he said.