Organizer: National Tea Party Convention-goers represent movement despite high cost of admittance

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Tea Party supporters who flooded Nashville for a sold-out convention at Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort forked over more than $550 to come to the convention here. That’s a hefty price for the everyday American concerned with government spending — and it doesn’t include airfare or gas, a hotel room (easily $200 or more a night) or the daily parking fee ($18).

How do organizers respond to questions about the high price of admission?

“I make no apologies for being a capitalist, not at all,” convention spokesman Mark A. Skoda said.

Skoda, sipping iced tea while talking to reporters on the convention hall, dismissed the notion that the price discouraged people from coming: “Look I tell people, ‘We didn’t force anybody to pay the money.'”

He said some Tea Party groups pitched in money to be able to send at least one person to the convention who could in turn educate the rest of the group on the lessons learned at the convention. He said the event’s 600 spots sold out, there’s a waiting list of 500, and the real problem is finding a way to accommodate everyone.

A group leader from New Mexico, Skoda said, told him that their Tea Party “put a collection together to send two delegates because they want to bring back not only the contacts but a sense of what’s going on in Nashville and nationally.”

The Nashville resort includes rooms overlooking an indoor garden conservatory, two pools, numerous shops, a spa, restaurants and even night clubs. Steak and lobster reportedly will be served at dinner.

One activist denied entry on Thursday was Peyton Lumpkin, who said he plans to mount an independent challenge to Rep. Ron Paul for his U.S. House seat in Texas. Lumpkin and his wife showed up to the convention Thursday without and ticket and tried — to no avail — to be admitted.

If he’s able to get in, Lumpkin said, he thinks he “can get some support for the campaign” he’s running.

He said he’s going to stick around all weekend, in the case he’s able to eventually purchase a ticket. The goal of the trip, Lumpkin said, is to convince the convention’s keynote speaker, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, to endorse him in his congressional race.

Among those in attendance was Georgia native William Temple, who said he was dressing up as a different patriot for each day of the convention. On Thursday, Temple’s patriot of choice was the Scotsman:

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