August 30th, 2009
05:14 PM ET
11 years ago

Tea Party Express cruises through Nevada

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="'They want to make us a socialist state,' Johnny Burwell told CNN."]
ELY, Nevada (CNN) - Hundreds of people turned out for a series of weekend events as the Tea Party Express cruised across northern Nevada.

The caravan of tour buses, RVs, cargo trucks and SUVs kicked off a cross-country tour Friday in Sacramento, California, and plans on holding events in 33 cities en route to Washington, D.C. for what organizers hope will be a big rally on September 12.

The tour is being funded by Our Country Deserves Better, a conservative political action committee.

The tea party movement gained momentum this year; several parties were held across the country this summer to protest President Barack Obama and the Democrats' economic stimulus plans, among other things.

On July 4, nearly 2,000 advocates, toting signs and chanting slogans, rallied outside Congress. Activists said the TEA Party Day - an acronym for "Taxed Enough Already" - was in response to runaway government spending. But now, the focus is on health care reform, an issue that has brought about demand for bigger, more encompassing debate throughout the country and in Congress.

At an event Saturday in Winnemucca, Nevada, Carolyn Rowe came to the tea party in a T-shirt depicting Obama as the joker from "Batman." In place of the familiar "Hope" logo of Obama's campaign was the word "Joke."

She says she is concerned about the number of so-called "czars" in the Obama administration and she fears losing her choice of doctor if health care reform passes.

"I believe he's trouncing the Constitution and taking control of our country in a direction we don't want," says Rowe, from beneath a wide brimmed straw hat. "I think he has a hidden agenda, and I think he doesn't tell the truth and that in itself bothers me."

Husband-and-wife team Barbara and Pete Jones drove up from Reno, Nevada. Barbara's red T-shirt said "Impeach Everyone," but she said Obama is first on her list.

What is her main concern?

"Socialism," she says.

Husband Pete elaborates, "They're spending too much money. Were going into debt spending money on things we don't need, bailing out companies that should have failed."

The Joneses, who are in their 60s, have never been what they call "protesting people" before, but they think the tea party movement is picking up speed and they are happy to be spending their Saturday afternoon out the blazing midday sun of the Winners Casino parking lot. They even made a sign that reads, "Don't borrow, tax and spend our children's future."

"Were the sleeping giant that has been awaken," she says, "We're the silent majority that is no longer silent."

Mike Bryant nods in agreement with Barbara Jones. He attended Friday night's Tea Party In Sparks, Nevada, and drove up to Winnemucca for Saturday's event.

"I think a lot of people are just waking up and getting active. People are reading and educating themselves," he says, "I think too many of us that have been working, busy raising families and haven't been involved."

He has been to tea parties in the past and thinks the protesters have gotten a bum rap in the media.

"I think were not an unruly mob, I think most of us are just average citizens and were trying to make a difference, trying to make our feelings known."

Later Saturday the tour arrives at a park in Elko, Nevada, where Johnny Burwell minces no words. His sign (and just about everyone has a sign) reads, "I will not be a socialist." He holds it up between the tines of a pitchfork.

"They want to make us a socialist state." He says, "I got a good life I don't want em messing it up."

But the crowd of several hundred in Elko has some surprise attendees: Obama supporters. Four of them.

Nora Hatfield and her three pals voted for Obama and support the president now. They are parked near the back on folding chairs.

"I wanted to know why they don't support health care, why they don't support the issues that are important to this administration," Hatfield says. "The way you learn these things is by listening to what other people have to say."

After hearing the speakers from the Tea Party Express, she is unsatisfied.

"What I have heard today has all totally been negative." She says, "Nobody has given me a solution."

Sunday morning, the Tea Party Express rolled into Ely, Nevada, where about 100 partiers were waiting for the caravan. More T-shirts, more signs and more newly minted activists.

Next stop: Las Vegas.

Filed under: Nevada • Tea Party movement
soundoff (135 Responses)
  1. Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

    Why is this rolling freak show news?

    August 30, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  2. howie

    Great work, I want to be a part of the party, see you in DC

    August 30, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. Allen

    TEA party? More like Whine party.

    August 30, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  4. makesUwonder

    Keep the good work Tea Party Express.....there's millions of us out here that support you!

    August 30, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  5. fred

    If I was to have a pick for the first to impeach, I would go with Robert Gibbs. The guy is late to just about every press conference, and listening to him stumble across words is worse than listening to Dubya speak. Dubya was at least funny with his made up words. Gibbs doesn't get anything across at all.

    August 30, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    The Party of NO to what little people need is getting loud. How do these people have the money to take that much time off from work?

    Getting paid by the Republican/Insurance money? Think about it. Follow who benefits most. INSURANCE Companies.

    August 30, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  7. Ultimate Heretic

    Must be nice to have so much free time to gallivant across the country! I am busy trying to make ends meet. Of course it is much easier to roll around bemoaning life's problems than it is to stand up and face them like an adult, i.e., work hard at your job or do something constructive in the community. Do these same people bother to go read to unlettered children, build for the disadvantaged, feed the hungry, hold a small child at an orphanage or clean the animal cages at a shelter?. Nope. Easier to howl at the moon. The group should be called the "Wee-Wee-Wee Express" [reference the story of "this little piggy" if you don't get the allusion].

    August 30, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  8. Barbara

    And why didn't these tea people wake up and speak out when Bush/Cheney took us into an undeclared war built on lies and fear-killing not only our own soldiers but innocent men, woman, and children-building our national debt and ruining our economy? Do they understand what the are repeating from the likes of an idiot Limbaugh or Palin? Do they have a mind of their own and know the issues? We already have quality social programs in place which many take advantage of. Get the facts before you read your tea leaves. President Obam inherited one colossal mess. Give him time. He is doing a great job and needs our patience and support.

    August 30, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  9. tom

    Hundreds showed up? And this makes national news?

    August 30, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  10. Reg

    What idiots (tea baggers) except for a few of the MC's / Host's
    are the only idiot's being looked at to raise their Taxes!

    Cry babies making over 250K a year. The 98% of tea baggers
    are under that threshold of wealth! Which is amazing to see
    how many bigots are willing to sacrifice their own pantry to
    allow the top 5% to THRIVE & EAT WELL!

    August 30, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  11. richard

    Keep it up no no no no no to this crapy health care plan

    August 30, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  12. JR

    Nevada, with 116 degree weather, is a good place for empty heads.

    August 30, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  13. Farrell in Houston

    Just wait until their insurance companies raise their rates and see whose being taxed then.

    August 30, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  14. annie against biased news

    So far, as concerned REAL AMERICAN CITIZENS we still have the right to protest and have our voices heard. My understanding is that they are now trying to cram thru a cyberspace bill which will take away our freedom of speech. Already several networks have taken away our freedoms by not voicing both sides of every issue that comes up. Frankly, I am very surprised cnn even did this article.

    August 30, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. Juan Marquez

    I would like to hear more about "Cash For Crooks". I heard that prisoners are getting some of the stimulus money from jail. How can this be happening? This money could be used to create jobs for many taxpaying families. I haven't heard any of this from the mainstream media.

    Concerned citizen

    August 30, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  16. Bassman

    The Tea Party and the town hall protesters have one thing in common. They are doing the media's job for them. The media were not asking the tough questions (and still arent), so average Americans stood up and said will do your job for you. We the people...

    August 30, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  17. JonDie

    The rich pay almost NO taxes; people making over $250,000 need to start paying their share.

    August 30, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  18. Mel Joran

    Now that Obama is investigating the CIA where he is going to get intelligence information > I know CNN, MSNBC, facebook, twitter.
    If CIA employees could talk, they would tell that they are only going to cruise from now on > find other jobs and or wait for retairement.
    I don't get it >
    Mel Jordan

    August 30, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  19. ge

    wonder what this group cost the insurance companys ha-ha

    August 30, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  20. Southern Gentleman

    Nothing but hippies and commies

    August 30, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  21. normajean

    Instead of wasting gas and time going for a bus ride and having a :Tea Party' why don't you people do something really useful such as collecting food for the families left without a wage earner in the family,or helping families who have been left homeless? CAN'T YOU FIND SOMETHING REALLY CONSTRUCTIVE TO DO INSTEAD OF GRIPING AND COMPLAINING? GET A LIFE"

    August 30, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  22. infidel

    I'm so tired of hearing how Obama is going to turn us into a socialist country. If you have medical insurance that you can afford then there is no reason to have health care reform. If you can't afford it or it's not available due to a pre-existing condition then we need health care reform. Obama should have signed a bill making Republicans a pre-existing condition then you would see them try and help instead of hinder the effort. Right now the Republicans don't want to work with the Democrats because they make Obama successful and increase his chance to be re-elected in 2010. They would rather see the country in the toilet first.

    August 30, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  23. Pragmatic

    "The tour is being funded by Our Country Deserves Better, a conservative political action committee. ...

    So do you really believe this is a true "grass roots" tea party or millions being spent to maintain the status quo and "stay the course..." 2000 simple minded people – sacred to death by all the lies about death panels and "socialism"

    Dick Armey said in an interview that the widespread protests over health-care reform could not happen unless people were "truly scared." "If you are going to go ugly, go ugly early."

    Newest scare tactic? The Republican National Committee suggested in a recent fundraising appeal that Democrats might use an overhaul of the health-care system to deny medical treatment to Republicans.

    August 30, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  24. Gary

    " Tea Party Express draws 30,000 at Jonas Brothers concert"

    " Tea Party Express draws 60,000 at Yankees game"

    The real news
    "Tea Party Express draws less than 2000 out of 330,000,000 at the Capital on the 4th of July.
    Now thats impressive.

    August 30, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  25. Real men dont need guns

    I hope their caravan has a horrible crash and the all burn to death! I really do hope this! I hate most old people and euthanasia should be mandatory for the elderly we have in this country now. How selfish and hateful they are!

    August 30, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
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