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

Tea Party Express cruises through Nevada

'They want to make us a socialist state,' Johnny Burwell told CNN.

'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. Jackson

    so let me see...if any of these people are retired and collecting social security or on medicare doesn't that technically make them socialists by default?

    August 30, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  2. gl, Pittsburgh

    Just the same old people that didn't vote for the President anyway. Who care!

    August 30, 2009 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  3. Mike Allen

    The Republicans used to be the Party of Christian,working class conservatives. Somehow the GOP has been hijacked by ignorant violent trash carrying assault rifles and swatikas spurred on by the racist rants and lies and scare tactics of neo nazis like Hannity, Beck and Limbaugh who are serving their greedy crooked corporate puppet masters. This filthy remnant of the once great GOP has generated more than four hundred death threats against the popularly elected President of our United States. The current state of the GOP is not just ugly and sad. It is scary.

    August 30, 2009 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  4. gl, Pittsburgh

    What I have heard today has all totally been negative." She says, "Nobody has given me a solution."
    That why most American stop listing to these nuts and they are the same nuts that didn't vote for the President anyway. They just mad and don't even know what they are mad about.

    August 30, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  5. gerryluimes

    Dissent al over the country is taking on a pathological condition:
    People have been yelling for change,but when the chips are down they retreat and find out that they are afraid of change,called fear.F E A R stands for False Expectations Appearing Real.
    TheDSA (Devided States of America) are spoiling for a second Civil War.The end result inevitably will be the collapse of the country as we know it.It happened to the (once mighty )Soviet Union,remember?
    I hope I am wrong for that perceived scenario will change the political-economic structure of the rest of the world also.
    Can you hear China laughing?

    August 30, 2009 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  6. Cyrus

    A group of morons screaming about a false chaos, drummed up by bigger morons who are stuck in the 50s.

    Get a brain!

    August 30, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  7. JD

    It's good to see people who have never read Marx and have no idea what socialism is erroneously use the term. Casually tossing around the term "socialism" has become popular again, just like when Sen. McCarthy did so.

    August 30, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  8. proud liberal

    U.S. imbecility at its most strident. Good education for all but the most fortunate economically stopped after Reagan was elected. This is an example of the result.

    August 30, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  9. Rob in Charleston, SC

    These people are wasting their time. They belong in the same class as other conspiracy theorists who think such things as the government was involved in 9/11 or that the moon landings were faked.

    In other words people, stop making up your own world view and start looking for the actual facts.

    Health care reform is going to happen, in spite of your ignorance.

    August 30, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  10. Dora

    Puppets! Believing whatever your church tells you; and by the way should be paying taxes if they're going to try to influence politics. Obama's health insurance reform and public option will benefit everyone except the greedy CEOs and executives in the health and pharmaceutical industry who are out on their yachts while your grandmother is denied coverage for a lump in her breast that was found 6 months ago, and your nephews medication is not covered and you have to pay out of pocket. Wake up and get a clue!!!

    August 30, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  11. scott

    It's like the circus has come to town. All emotion, no real logic.

    August 30, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  12. Jefe

    It would seem to me that most of the people in this movement were scolding true conservatives for complaining about Bush Sr, Bush Jr, and Reagan's record deficit-spending habits, but now that Obama is engaged in deficit spending (this time for an actual useful purpose, unlike the previously-mentioned ultra-liberal predecessors), the spending is suddenly a problem for them.

    Besides all that, do these people really want to see 20-30% of our GDP going toward healthcare expenses just a few years from now if we keep up the current situation? Personally, I'd rather see our nation survive, with changes in the healthcare system, than become enslaved to the Chinese by keeping the Pro-Health-Insurance-Lobby Status Quo. If that makes me a Socialist, then so be it. I think I'll go take a drive on a Socialist-built road while the Socialist Fire Department stands guard in case my house starts on fire while I'm out.

    August 30, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  13. JonDie

    The Tea Party Express is what we get for raising a generation of math-illiterate persons with no critical thinking skills.

    Just how do these people think we pay to keep criminals in prison and keep track of parolees?

    And almost no one in the US (least of all Republicans) understands that multi-trillion dollar wars (as in Iraq), that are fought entirely to help transfer taxpayers funds to private corporations like Halliburton...have to be paid for by someone.

    And when Wall Street bankers steal trillions thanks to the Republicans' "no regulation" philosophy, someone has to pay the bills at the end of the day;.

    August 30, 2009 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  14. Ellen

    These people will only understand when they too lose their insurance coverages. Only then, will they wake up and smell the coffee.

    August 30, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  15. linda

    When these packs of Republicans, out to destroy everything in their wake , soon discover that their health insurance refuses to pay for most procedures and their premiums continue to sky-rocket, will they totally understand what reforms means. For now, they are following what is told to them by the GOP. Ninnys!

    August 30, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  16. mb-texas

    Wow a tea party.where were the tea party people when the
    conservatives when Pres.Bush was spending that
    Pres.Obama is trying to bring the country out of the trouble we are in the tea party people want to grab the news cycle with their nonsence.
    get a life and instead of complaining work for solutions the right
    way.You are being led down the path wrong way.

    August 30, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  17. kyle

    Just another fine example of how the GOP is leading the poor, sweet little lambs to slaughter. It's amazing how so many people are totally blindsided by propaganda.

    August 30, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  18. RJ

    CNN will broadcast statements from anyone who wants to criticize Obama. Many of these poor slobs don't even know what they are talking about but still will mouth right wing slogans or talking points that they have heard these wingnuts repeat.

    August 30, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  19. LANCE

    These people are proving that you really can't fix stupid. We need reform NOW!!!!

    August 30, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  20. Nateer

    I've seen this "Johnny Burwell" before. I think he's been hired and well paid by the GOP. What a twit!!!!!

    August 30, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  21. James

    Something tells me that I am financially supporting more than one tea partier with my tax dollars and high insurance rates.

    August 30, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  22. johnmccain

    The dude can not even spell "Socialist", I bet he doesn't even know what it is. He is a good example of an uneducated American, And he is proud of it!
    In Western societies (Western Europe) this is not even a question and they are far from being Cuba and North Korea...
    Dude, go and get a passport and see how people can manage life better than we do here. Of course, it would be like "Why don't you leave and live there???". Because I like living in my country and woud like to live better with better health care. Health care must be a right in a developed society, not a priviledge. If not, we are not a developed society.

    August 30, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  23. IS IT 2012 YET ??

    This is the real America. Right on !

    August 30, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  24. Expat American

    Where were these same people when Bush shot missiles into family weddings full of civilians?

    Oh yes. They were defecating in their trousers out of pure joy as they watched the very 'values' that they voted for come to fruition.

    Most of these people don't even grasp the sad fact that they don't make or have enough money for the GOP to care at all about them. They just want their vote...their 'Real American' (e.g. their White, Conservative, racist and religious bigotry) vote.

    August 30, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
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