Tampa Tea Party draws hundreds listen04/15/09 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:
A crowd of about 500 people gathered in downtown Tampa today as part of the nationwide Tax Day Tea Parties protesting government spending, particularly spending plans of President Barack Obama.
The event has received large coverage on conservative media outlets, like talk radio and Fox News. Their presence has become so large that in the past few days, the left leaning cable network MSNBC has held several reports about Fox’s involvement.
Although many in the audience were conservative, they weren’t necessarily Republican Party supporters. A man named Steve from Clearwater said there were some national Republicans he respected, many of them who have made headlines in rejecting portions of the stimulus money earmarked for their states.
His friend called Florida’s Governor Charlie Christ a RINO, Republican In Name Only.
Tarpon Springs Republican Congressman Gus Bilirakis stood in front of the flatbed truck parked on Ashley Avenue where speakers were addressing the crowd. The congressman found himself committing to term limits for members of Congress. WMNF contacted Bilirakis office to determine if he has backed term limits in the past. They did not return our phone call.
Mark Proctor is a Republican Party consultant based in Hillsborough County. Despite the high profile endorsements from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey’s Freedom Works organization, Proctor insisted that the event was grassroots activated.
There were many signs in the crowd claiming that America is becoming socialist. WMNF asked former Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair, one of the listed organizers, if he felt the president was leading the country down that path.
Blair said Obama was already changing much about what he campaigned for. Politifact.com reported earlier this month that Obama has not broken his vow to not tax anybody making less than $250,000 a year, unless one considers the new cigarette tax a levy on such citizens.
Steve Freed from Clearwater held a sign that read, “Incumbents, we won’t forget.” A former veteran, he said there were plenty of problems with America’s health care system. When asked what he thought of the president’s plan to reform health care, he seemed in support, without actually saying so.
Jeff Chandler is from Land O’Lakes. He had a sign that had a cross over the phrase New World Order. Chandler thinks illegal immigration is out of control.
However, not all of those in attendance seemed to have their facts in order, even if they did have the GOP talking points.
A South Tampa woman named Marianne Matheson held aloft a sign saying no taxpayer fund for ACORN. However, according to the political vetting website, Fact.Check.org, the bil did include funds for which ACORN would be eligible to compete - against hundreds of other groups. But most is for a housing rehabilitation program ACORN says it never applied for in the past and won't in the future.
A second Tea Party rally is taking place right now in Gaslight Park, and will continue until 7 p.m.