- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Tea Party Express, whose cross-country caravan of anti-big government rallies culminated in a demonstration at the Capitol earlier this month, will hit the road again in October to keep its political movement energized and at the center of upcoming legislative battles.

The Sacramento, Calif.-based organization said Tuesday that its second coast-to-coast road trip will run Oct. 25 through Nov. 11. The rallies are being billed as the “Countdown to Judgment Day” - one year ahead of the November 2010 congressional elections when leaders say their movement “will throw out the worst big spending offenders and bring in a new Congress.”

“The Washington, D.C., rally on Sept. 12 was the focal point of the first tour. The point of this tour is all about the people themselves. What we are doing is gathering this groundswell of opposition to big government and building a platform on which it can be heard,” said Levi Russell, chief spokesman for the Tea Party Express.

“The reason we are going back on the road so soon is that a sleeping giant has been awakened, the crowds have come out in record numbers and we feel we can be effective in raising that energy to a higher level,” Mr. Russell said.

Tea Party Express officials estimate that up to 60,000 Americans turned out at nearly three dozen rallies across the country to hear speakers denounce the federal government’s big spending policies - from bank bailouts to the Obama administration’s $1 trillion, government-run, health care expansion plan. The conservative caravan not only stoked the anti-big government movement, which began April 15 with hundreds of “tax day” protests, but served to promote the March on Washington rally Sept. 12 that was attended by nearly 100,000 people.

Express organizers said that throughout their national tour “we kept receiving e-mails and phone calls from people around the nation who lived far away from the route our buses took across America. We vowed at that time to keep the Tea Party Express effort alive - and that’s exactly what we are doing.”

The organizers intend for the demonstrations to coincide with Congress’ legislative schedule when the Obama administration and lawmakers will be in the midst of their battle over health care legislation.

“The biggest thing we are in opposition to is the encroachment of government in people’s lives. There’s nothing more personal than health care and there is nothing more impersonal than the federal government,” Mr. Russell said.

“During this time, the debate on health care will be raging and that is another reason that we want to be a part of that debate. We are not going to be silent on an issue that will affect all of us for generations to come.”

The new tour begins in San Diego and will stretch up the West Coast before continuing through the Great Plains and Gulf Coast region, eventually concluding in Orlando, Fla.

• Donald Lambro can be reached at dlambro@washingtontimes.com.old.

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