Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann, a Republican representative from Minnesota, took to the stage on the national mall shortly after dark, riling the crowd up by saying President Obama will be a one term president and that his recently passed health-care bill will be repealed. “Barack Obama will be a one term president,” Bachmann said.
In Feburary 2013, she said, Obama will be out of office. And despite those who say repeal of the health-care legislation is impossible, it will happen, she argued.
Other Republicans who showed up to rally Thursday night were Rep. Tom Price and Rep. Steve King.
Conservative publisher Andrew Breitbart, along with editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller, Tucker Carlson, are taking the stage before the event closes down at about 9:30 p.m.
I ran into Dick Armey — clad in a flannel shirt and donning a cowboy hat — backstage at the Tax Day event. Armey, the former GOP leader who is now the chairman of FreedomWorks, said now that the health-care debate is over, Tea Partiers are completely focused on winning elections in November.
“The purpose of today is to basically tell all officeholders and officeseekers, ‘we’re here, we’re real, we’re gonna make a difference in your election and you have better pay attention to the things that are important to us because you very likely might not get your job back,’ ” Armey said.
He was also quick to point out that while there are thousands on the mall here in Washington, there are also 752 other Tax Day events taking place across the country today.
FreedomWorks organizer Brendan Steinhauser tells me there’s probably between 5 and 8 thousand protesters on the mall. The event is scheduled to really heat up at about 7 p.m. and last until after 9:30 p.m.
Steinhauser took the stage, riling up the crowd by saying President Obama is probably looking through the curtains out onto the mall at the protests. “I got a message for the President,” Steinhauser said. “We’re back.”
Others spotted backstage Thursday afternoon include Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tea Party favorite who quickly addressed the crowd, and Greta Van Susteren of Fox News, who was walking around with a camera in her hand while greeting organizers.
UPDATE 5:50 PM
Tea Partiers in Washington are making their way now to the national mall, as FreedomWork’s Tax Day protest is about to get going. Rep. Ron Paul and Rep. Tom Price, both Republicans, are set to address the crowd along with other conservative speakers on the stage facing the Washington Monument. Protesters facing the stage see the White House in the background.
I also just ran into Ryan Hecker, who will take the stage to officially unveil the Contract from America. Sen. Jim DeMint, former Rep. Dick Armey and former Speaker Newt Gingrich are expected to sign on to the document. Rep. Mike Pence has also said he supports the contract, Hecker said, and other members will be encouraged to sign onto the document in the coming weeks and months.
“I’m happy he’s listening,” said Hecker of GOP House leader John Boehner’s public support announced today of the document.
Some of our reader-submitted photos below:
Neither House Republican Leader John Boehner nor any others in the Republican leadership are set to address the Tea Party crowds in Washington today, but Boehner marked tax day by issuing a statement praising the Tea Party Patriots’ list of ten legislative demands, the “Contract from America.”
“This document is just the latest example of how the Tea Party movement has done this nation a great service by giving Americans who believe their government is no longer listening to them a platform to come together that transcends party and ideology,” Boehner said. “Republican elected officials must continue to listen to them, stand with them, and walk among them.”
The document, which is being formally unveiled at today’s rally near the Washington monument, was developed by Houston activist Ryan Hecker. The planks were voted on by nearly 500,000 activists online. The final document contains:
* Protect the Constitution
* Reject Cap and Trade
* Demand a Balanced Budget
* Enact Fundamental Tax Reform
* Restore Fiscal Responsibility and Constitutionally Limited Government in Washington
* End Runaway Government Spending
* Defund, Repeal, and Replace Government-run Health Care
* Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above” Energy Policy
* Stop the Pork
* Stop the Tax Hikes
“Every lawmaker – Republican, Democrat, and Independent – should consider the ‘Contract from America’ required reading and heed its call for a return to the principles on which our nation was founded,” Boehner added.
UPDATE 1:30 PM
The signs have changed a bit since Tea Partiers last descended upon Washington DC.
Gone are the “Kill the Bill” posters that the conservative grassroots activists vigorously waved from the Capitol grounds the weekend the House passed President Obama’s health-care bill.
If the most visible signs represent the motivating force behind the parties, it appears the activists have one thing on their mind: voting out the bad guys, putting in the good ones and repealing the health-care bill.
Here’s a sample of some of the most visible signs:
* Vote America, Repeal Obamacare
* 2010 and you’re out
* Re-elect no one
* Hoping for change 2010
Steven Beren, who flew out to Washington from Seattle for the Tax Day protests and was clutching a ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ sign, said he’s focused on trying to “influence elections” because “it’s the way to repeal” the bill.
The crowd, assembled at Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington, has increased as the day has gone on. I’d say it’s definitely made up of more than one thousand protesters, maybe even two thousand. A number of conservative speakers, organized by the Tea Party Express, are energizing the sign-waving crowd while a number of Tea Party capitalists are hard at work selling buttons, flags and even pretzels.
Of the protesters are waving signs, here are some of the more creative ones:
* Glenn Beck 2012
* For more information on this story, avoid NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN
* How’s that hope and change working for you?
* Bankrupt America? Yes we can!
* Go Green, Recycle Congress
* You can’t fix stupid, but you can vote them out
* President Obama, this is not Moscow. We have a constitution.
Are you at a Tax Day rally and see some other creative signs? Email email@example.com
UPDATE 12:22 PM
If one thing is clear, the Tea Partiers are conscious of their so-called enemies.
As I entered the Tea Party Express rally at Freedom Plaza here in Washington, a young volunteer in a neon green shirt handed me a piece of paper titled, “the Tea Party census.” The mainstream media, the volunteer said, likes to play down the amount of people who show up to Tea Party events, so they’re making an effort to do an organized counting of the crowd.
Throughout the rally, volunteers are collecting these census forms and plan to announce the results later this afternoon.
News leading up to today’s events has largely been about tea party crashers, or liberals, disguised as conservative activists, expected to infiltrate rallies across the country with racist and homophobic signs. No sightings of any crashers yet, but some sign-carrying activists are ready.
One man in the crowd here is holding a “Tea Party Imposters Go Home” sign. A Maryland man, John Balazek, is also holding a large red sign that reads, “Stop Obama’s brown shirt infiltrators and his domestic enemies of the constitution.”
Balazek said he hasn’t seen any “infiltrators,” but he’d point them out if he did. And if the crashers got violent, the self-described “big guy” warned, he’d have no problem stepping in to subdue them.
The only liberals at the rally, so far, are not shy about their intentions. A group of about a dozen counter-protesters have been getting into yelling matches with some of the assembled Tea Partiers. These protesters are holding a large sign that says they are “the other 95 percent” who are appreciative of President Obama and “who are not fringe fanatics,” according to organizer Marco Ceglie from Arizona.
“I enjoyed paying for your tax cut,” one Tea Partier yelled at Ceglie’s group. “This week I wrote the biggest check in my life to the IRS.”
Size-wise, there are at least one thousand activists — and possibly more — assembled at the Freedom Plaza rally, located off Pennsylanvia Avenue in Washington. There’s also plenty of media, including CNBC’s Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood, there to capture the speakers riling up the sign-waving crowd. Activists are expected to migrate over to the Washington monument later this afternoon for another rally being organized by FreedomWorks.
It’s April 15th, so the deadline to file your taxes is here and Tea Partiers across the country are attending thousands of rallies to protest what they decry as runaway government spending.
Here in Washington, the Tea Party Express — whose “just vote them out” tour started in March and ends with today’s protests — kicked off Tax Day by unveiling their list of targeted races for the 2010 elections.
The group endorsed GOPer candidate Sharon Angle, running for Harry Reid’s Nevada seat, Thursday morning at the National Press Club. The Tea Party Express has been very active in the Nevada race, and several weeks ago they even ran television ads against Scott Ashjian, a self-declared Tea Party candidate who they claim is a phony meant to siphon votes away from Republican candidates.
Angle, speaking to sign-bearing Tea Partiers and members of the press, pointed to deals Reid and the Democratic leadership made to secure votes during the health-care debate, saying, “He’s embarrassed us,” and he “failed America.”
Angle — running against a number of Republicans, including Danny Tarkanian and Sue Lowden — said it’s not enough to just vote for “anyone but Harry.”
“We need someone who understands what the Constitution says,” she said.
For other Senate races, the group is targeting incumbents Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Harry Reid of Nevada, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Barbara Boxer of California.
House members targeted include Betsy Markey of Colorado, Alan Grayson of Florida, Baron Hill of Indiana, Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Dina Titus of Nevada, John Spratt of South Carolina, Tom Perriello of Virginia, Gerry Connolly of Virginia and Alan Mollohan of West Virginia.
All targeted incumbents are Democrats. The group also listed 14 “Tea Party Heroes” — all Republicans — including Marco Rubio in Florida, Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina.
Other Senate heroes include: Chuck DeVore in California, Todd Tiahrt in Kansas, Rand Paul in Kentucky and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania. Other House heroes include Tom McClintock in California, Tom Price in Georgia, Walt Minnick in Indiana, Michele Bachmann in Minnesota and Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee.
Organizer Amy Kremer said their bus tours raise awareness of the movement, but “if we truly want change, we are going to have to get involved in the election process.”
“This is where we start. Harry Reid is number one,” she said.
Mark Williams, co-chairman of Tea Party Express, pointed to Sen. Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts as a victory for the group, which ran ads during the election. The group also hailed Michigan Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak’s retirement as another victory, after the PAC ran ads and held rallies in the district of the vilified anti-abortion representative who at the last minute agreed to a deal that allowed President Obama’s health-care bill pass.
The Tea Party Express kicked off their tour March 27 from Searchlight, Nev. in an event that Sarah Palin keynoted. At 11 a.m., the bus tour will officially end at Freedom Plaza in Washington.
We’ll be live blogging throughout the day. Attending a Tax Day event? Be sure to send good photos of signs and interesting blurbs to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re tweeting today from a rally, use the Twitter hashtag #TheDC, so we’ll see your reporting.