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Tea Party floods capitol square, with message to both parties

Rosalind Helderman

Members of various groups affiliated with the so-called Tea Party movement are making a show of strength in Richmond today, rallying more than 1,000 demonstrators for a Capitol Square protest and then flooding the General Assembly building to meet with lawmakers.

The Martin Luther King Day holiday is traditionally considered Lobby Day in Richmond, with dozens of groups taking advantage of the day off from work to send members to the capital city. But the tea party group appeared to the be largest in recent memory.

Wearing "Don't Tread on Me" stickers and holding signs calling for states rights, a reacknowledgement of the 10th amendment of the constitution, limited taxes, lower government spending and--above all--a rejection of the federal health care bill, the group listened to almost two hours worth of speakers, including rousing addresses from Virginia's new attorney general Ken Cuccinelli and Del. Bob Marshall.

"The Revolution has begun!" said Marshall, as he took the microphone. He praised the rallyers as "sentinels on the tree of liberty."

"This Obama-care is not only a fight over health insurance. It's not even a fight over payback to political help," he said. "This is a fight for--are you a citizen or are you a serf? It's not your wallet that they want, it's your soul and your family."

"It's time for people like you all to step up and to draw the lines that our Founding Fathers thought they drew very clearly," said Cuccinelli, who took part 48 hours after being sworn in as the state's top lawyer. On his lapel, in place of a Virginia flag pin, Cuccinelli wore a "Don't Tread on Me" pin. "We need to reemphasize that there our sovereigns in America. One of those in the Commonwealth of Virginia."

One woman held a dead fish and a sign calling for the end to Chicago-style politics in Washington. Another held a sign aloft that said, "Obama, can you hear us now?" The master of ceremonies dressed in period costume as Patrick Henry and performed a reenactment of Henry's famous speech of the Revolution, leading the whole crowd in a hearty shout of "Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!" to conclude. They wore stickers calling on the General Assembly to pass two bills, one declaring an individual health care mandate illegal in Virginia and another establishing that a gun manufactured and sold in Virginia is not subject to federal regulation under the commerce clause of the U.S. constitution.

All of the elected officials who addressed the group were Republicans. But several tea party members made clear that they do not believe their movement is tied to party--they will throw out the Republican bums just as quickly as the Democratic ones.

"The Republican Party has not been satisfying the people in this group," said Richmond lawyer and former state party chairman Pat McSweeney, who helped organize the event. "The fight will be whether the Republican party will open itself to this opposition movement."

Stay tuned.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  January 18, 2010; 2:03 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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What a difference a few weeks makes. By the looks of it the grand-daddy of all media elites has sobered up enough to see the precipitous and has decided -- correctly -- to churn out an honest, non agenda-driven, straight up news reporting on the Tea party movement. Not too painful now was it, wapo!??

More that the contents of the story what's important about this report is what was glaringly left out. No more under-handed derogatory comments and shocking slanders at the expense of regular Americans!

Watershed moment indeed!

From the beginning the MSM was quick to recognize the meaning of the Tea Party Movement and jumped in quickly to delegitimize and sideline its message and supporters. Yet still they missed the mark; both on the opposition sentiments and the times we live in; the left with its dimwitted, drunk-on-power, derangements, and the awakened, infuriated, and frightened American folks. The more stones and the harder they threw, the stronger and more determined the opposition became! And now the elite rulers and their minions have a genuine rising grassroots movement w/ a powerful message on their hands. The best they can do is heed the call from their media supporters who always recognize the clarion call first!

Posted by: pouran-doukht | January 18, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Another Bunch of Redneck Retards...Again no solution to the problem they created...losers!

Posted by: bob1232 | January 18, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

pd - right on! The Tea Party grassroots movement is all about giving a voice to the disenfranchised as well as those who adamantly oppose growing government; especially since January 2009!

People don't get it. As a former Dem, I speak from experience. The Dem Party is a pretend elite faction which is rather small in size and mind. The Party is losing common sense members, like me, in droves. As they should. No one in their right mind voted for the kind of change this usurper and his party apparatchiks had in mind. Pelosi comes from the most FAR LEFT LIBERAL, AKA SOCIALIST, part of all of America! For goodness sakes Dem's wake up and accept the fact that these hooligans are not representing you or anyone else for all that matters. It's the club they want to build!

Given that, the Tea Party movement has my attention and my support. This former D says "Country before Party!!!"

Posted by: dr_cathy | January 18, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Instead of folks outside this movement condemning things, it would be useful to understand the concern many of us have about the big-government dependency direction our great country has been headed as of late.

America was made into the beacon it was, not from more and more government programs and high spending, but out of limited government and respect for the individual.

Posted by: winspire | January 18, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Having attended the rally, I have only 2 issues with the article. First, the "so-called tea party groups" statement was rather condescending. Secondly, by all accounts other than this one, there were easily 2000+ in attendance. Otherwise, a fair and accurate report.
Regarding Bob's comment, that is precisely the sort of elitist attitude that is energizing the movement. Bob has managed to insult a broad crossection of Virginians, including Vets, college proffessors, and currently serving military people in one short statement. Way to go, Bob!

Posted by: VirginiaPatriot | January 18, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

It is MLKJ day and so I am inspired to say; I have learned from Democratic leaders that Obama is not black, he has a light shade and hardly ever uses a "Negro dialect" unless he wants to. Obama's ability to speak with a negro dialect, is especially admirable in his case, because, as I understand it he is not a descendant of any American slave. I think that warrants repeating; OBAMA IS NOT THE DESCENDANT OF ANY AMERICAN SLAVE! (A black Republican can still have this honour if you will help me press this fact.) So how did he learn to speak "negro dialect" so well? His mother is white, his father was from Kenya, and he grew up in our 50th state, no? I guess he is just an excellent mimic, (unless it is mockery) able to turn it on or off depending on the audience. But, it is just like the Democrats, they fought for slavery during the Civil War, Founded the KKK after they lost, they were Jim Crow, and filibustered the civil rights act under Johnson, (ask Sen. Robert Byrd). So, it is not surprising after all, that even after the democrats have elected Obama, (their version of an acceptable light shade, clean, articulate Negro) the descendant of an American slave has STILL never become president. Don't it just make you want to whistle Dixie? Happy MLKJ Day everyone! Remember we are not judged according to the shade of our skin but by the content of, well you know.

Posted by: Salverda | January 18, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

The tea party please these idiots dont even have a plan they just hate everything, Let this country be stupid enough to let the republicans back in office. They ruined the country last time this time they will destroy so no one will bring it back. Unbelievable!

Posted by: critic4u | January 19, 2010 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Update: The Capitol Police put the attendance at 2,400.
And to critic4u, you are wrong. The Tea Party Patriots do not hate everything. We love our county, our tradition, and most importantly, our Constitution, which gives YOU the right to spout your ignorance.

Posted by: VirginiaPatriot | January 20, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

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