PORTLAND, Oregon (CNN)– The Tea Party Express rolled into Portland, Oregon, Friday and took aim at the city's left-leaning image.
"It's great to be in a capital of liberalism," Tea Party Vice Chairman Mark Williams told a crowd of several hundred supporters who milled around the organization¹s two large tour buses. The event was held in a parking lot owned by a local Italian sausage sandwich shop.
Before the invitation to host the rally there, organizers had spent several days trying to find a venue who would have them. Almost everyone they contacted, organizers said, voiced concerns that holding an event on their property would be bad for business.
But the crowd that showed up nearly filled the small parking lot, cheering on criticisms of Democratic health care proposals and calling for a more conservative Republican Party.
Holding a cardboard sign that read "No Obama Care," retiree Jack Millay said, "The Democrats don't support my positions, the Republicans don't support my positions so here I am."
Millay said huge deficits run up under the past two administrations infuriated him.
"Somehow we need to reform the Republican party so they return to conservative values instead of being how they are which is not that different from Democrats," Millay said.
Across the street from the rally, Noah Heller and four other protesters held a counter rally calling for higher taxes on large corporations in Oregon. "People there are being fooled," Heller said of the tea party. "There's a lot of anger but it's misdirected."
He blamed the low turnout for the anti-Tea Party rally on the lack of publicity about the event.
The Tea Party Express is a third of the way through a 19-day tour of the country with stops in 38 cities.