Tea party activists strategize in DC on 5th anniversary - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Tea party activists strategize in DC on 5th anniversary

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WASHINGTON -

National polls show -- among voters -- a decline in support for the tea party movement in the United States. The largely grassroots movement is now five years old.

It is still strong enough to attract more than 500 people to a Tea Party Patriots conference in Washington, D.C. And those attending told us they are fired up and ready to elect conservative candidates to Congress in November.

In 2009, a grassroots movement astonished Washington, D.C., when tens of thousands of people came to march against the size and scope of government. At the time, Bill Goodwin, of Norman, Okla., told us, "Everything [the government does] is bankrupt. Social security, Medicaid. Nothing they do works out well. Everything they touch falls apart. The minute they stop, and the free market steps in, [society] thrives."

In that crowd, in 2009, was Toledo, Ohio businesswoman Kathleen Sallah, who is now back in D.C., and still supporting the tea party movement. During an interview, Sallah decried the growth of dependency on government: "We have to have some shame in wanting to take money from the government. You can make it in this country, but you have to work. It is not easy. It means working seven days a week."

Tea party activists succeeded in 2010 in electing a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Among them was extremely conservative Republican Congressman Raul Labrador of Idaho, who addressed the tea party meeting on Thursday.

"I didn't come [to Washington] to make friends,” he said. “I came here to save this republic and to save this nation."

Warm applause greeted the Idaho Republican's comment. Congressman Labrador urged the attendees to remain politically active.

A Gallup poll of American voters in December shows 30 percent of the electorate with a favorable view of the tea party movement. That same poll shows 51 percent of voters with an unfavorable view.

Professor Steve Billet, who teaches at the George Washington University graduate school of political management, told us his view as to why there has been a steep decline in favorability ratings for the tea party movement: "The polls suggests that where the Tea Party has failed is when they tried to expand their agenda beyond the explicit budgetary issues, and got much more involved in some other social issues."

The people attending this conference told us the tea party is not going away. Jerry Kische, a retired railroader from Afton, Tennessee, said the tea party is "absolutely" here to stay.

"It's getting stronger," said Kische. "Wait until November 2014. You'll see."

Many of the conference attendees plan to stay on Friday to attend workshops on how to elect conservative candidates.


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