Tea Party Express kicks off nationwide tour in Napa
August 27th, 2011
04:48 PM ET
11 years ago

Tea Party Express kicks off nationwide tour in Napa

NAPA, California (CNN) - Just beyond the cabernet and merlot halls at the Napa Expo, wine country chatter such as "I want something smooth and fruity" gave way to political debate Saturday.

The Tea Party Express, one of the nation’s largest tea party groups, launched its 29-city bus tour this weekend in California.

The bus, a modern twist on the whistle-stop political train tour, will end in Tampa, Florida, on September 10 for the CNN/Tea Party Express GOP presidential debate.

And as the bus tour rolled into Napa, a verbal assault on President Barack Obama rolled off tongues.

Don Bahl, wearing a dunce cap that said, "I voted 4 Obama," fired an opening shot.

"I was promised hope and change," Bahl said. "All I got was despair and a little change in my pocket.”

Tea party members in Napa will tell you that they are asked at times by out-of-state supporters how they survive living just up the road from liberal strongholds Berkeley and San Francisco, the realm of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

"Well, I think our rally shows the tea party is just a mindset,” said Tea Party Express communications director Levi Russell. ”Our principals are supported by the majority of Americans, even in Pelosi’s shadow.”

Several dozen protestors began shouting, "Hey ho, hey ho, the tea party has got to go," outside the expo grounds fence.

"It's almost like rubbing it in our face by showing up here," said anti-tea party demonstrator Almon Bundy from Yountville.

The Obama supporter accused the tea party of racism and said the party just could not support "a progressive black president."

The demonstrators also chanted: "Tax the rich."

Another anti-tea party sign read, "trashing America and the economy,” while a giant inflatable rat peered over the top of the fence.

Inside the expo, tea party members said they want this bus to roll out of Napa and pick up momentum and unity along its stops to Florida.

“Republicans have gone back forth and taken differing positions on various issues,” Russell said. “I hope we coalesce behind a single (presidential) candidate. And I hope local tea party groups start getting behind their No. 1 choice for senator or representatives. We want to repeat the election victories of 2010.”

But which politician should the tea party throw its weight behind in the 2012 race for president?

Don Synder held up his Ron Paul sign.

"He should be our president," Snyder said. "He is 100 percent behind the Constitution. In Congress, he always votes against the legislation that is not constitutional."

Meanwhile, other participants said they favored the other 2012 candidate from Texas.

Holding up his “Don’t tread on me” flag, a popular logo for the group, Brian Alizer said, “I guess I favor Rick Perry more than anyone else. But I am undecided. I guess I am still waiting for Ronald Reagan to show up."

Nancy Witmere said she is leaning toward Michele Bachmann.

"I think she will move us toward more individual responsibility and less government assistance," Witmere said.

Kevin Trout watched the speeches with a Sarah Palin sign leaning on his wheelchair.

"I want Palin to run. She's for constitutionally limited government," Trout said. "And she did not kill her youngest child."

Trout was referring to Trig Palin, who was born with Down syndrome. Palin has said that, after tests during her pregnancy, she knew her fifth child would be born with special needs.

"Compromise is what got us into this situation," said event speaker Sharron Angle, who ran and lost against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for Nevada’s Senate seat in 2010. "We gave (Democrats) our best shot. We need to cut spending, cap the debt and balance the budget."

The expo gate was wheeled open, and just after 1:30 p.m. the Tea Party Express glided through without incident.

A handful of demonstrators sealed off by police chanted: "No more war."

The bus turned, fittingly right, and headed to Reno.

Filed under: 2012 • California • Tea Party Express
soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. The Greedy Old Pigs have lost their minds!

    "I want something smooth and fruity". But enough about RIck Perry.

    These teatards are utterly delusional when they claim the TP is supported by the majority of Americans. Just the opposite is true, and this just shows what a phony fantasy land these GOBPbaggers live in. As an American, I support the needy, not the greedy. There is nothing American or patriotic about supporting the greedy and not the needy.

    August 28, 2011 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  2. kyle

    These are the same Clowns that voted for Bush twice, and supportd him while he ran the country in the ground, and now they are Patriots, what a joke!

    August 28, 2011 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
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