- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 15, 2010

BOSTON | The cross-country Tea Party Express tour built toward a climax Wednesday with a rally steeped in anti-tax symbolism and an exhortation from one of the few politicians it has embraced, Sarah Palin.

The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee said in Boston that President Obama must be rebuffed in this fall’s midterm elections after overreaching with his first-year stimulus law and with health care, student loan and financial regulatory overhauls.

“Is this what their ‘change’ is all about?” Mrs. Palin asked a sun-splashed crowd of roughly 5,000 gathered just a mile from the site of the original Boston Tea Party, from which the movement got its name. “I want to tell them, nah, we’ll keep clinging to our Constitution and our guns and religion - and you can keep the change.”

RELATED STORY: ‘Tea party’ ends tour in Washington

Tea partiers planned to meet for a final rally in Washington on Thursday, coinciding with the federal tax-filing deadline. Local events also are planned in Oklahoma, Ohio and other locations.

Mrs. Palin put her own spin on Tax Day, saying, “We need to cut taxes so that our families can keep more of what they earn and produce and our mom-and-pops, then, our small businesses, can reinvest according to our own priorities and hire more people and let the private sector grow and thrive and prosper.”

She also played to the crowd by trotting out a trademark line as she lobbied for more domestic energy production.

“Yeah, let’s drill, baby, drill, not stall, baby, stall - you betcha,” Mrs. Palin said.

The gathering intended to hark back to 1773, when American Colonists upset about British taxation without government representation threw British tea into Boston Harbor in protest.

The modern tea-party movement is diverse, with both Republican and Democratic followers as well as some outliers who question the legitimacy of Mr. Obama’s presidency. Some doubt he was born in the United States as his birth certificate shows.

Several speakers protested suggestions of racist undertones to the movement, which sprouted as the nation elected its first black president. Nonetheless, virtually the entire speaking program and audience were white.

An exception was the singer of the tea-party anthem, Lloyd Marcus, who made a point of describing himself not as African-American, but American.

One person in the crowd, John Arathuzik, 69, of Topsfield, Mass., said he had never been especially politically active until he saw the direction of the Obama administration.

“I feel like I can do one of two things: I can certainly vote in November, which I’ll do, and I can provide support for the peaceful protest about the direction this country is taking,” said Mr. Arathuzik, a veteran who clutched a copy of the Constitution distributed by a vendor.

Michael Brantmuller, a 40-year-old unemployed carpenter from Salem, N.H., said he appreciated Mrs. Palin’s “red-white-and-blue” speech but added: “I don’t know whether she’s the right spokesperson because she’s such a polarizing figure and people may judge her before they listen to her.”

A festive mood filled the air. A band played patriotic music, and hawkers sold yellow Gadsden flags emblazoned with the words “Don’t Tread on Me” and the image of a rattlesnake.

Small groups of counterprotesters urged civility and respect for gay and minority rights. They noted that some members of Congress claimed racism after voting for Mr. Obama’s health care law.

Notably absent was Sen. Scott Brown, the Massachusetts Republican who in January won the seat held for half a century by liberal icon Edward M. Kennedy.

He cited congressional business, which included hearings about the Iranian nuclear program.

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