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The Tea Party In America

Anti-Obama Billboard Splits Tea Partiers

This anti-Obama billboard in Mason City, Iowa has split some Tea Party members.  AP/AP hide caption

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At some Tea Party protests, posters of President Barack Obama with a Hitler mustache have occasionally been spotted.

Taking that theme to another level, some Tea Party protesters have paid for a billboard in Mason City, Iowa that compares Obama to not just Hitler but the defunct Soviet Union's seminal leader Vladimir Lenin.

With an Obama photo sandwiched between photos of Hitler and Lenin, the billboard has the words, "National Socialism" over the infamous German dictator, "Marxist Socialism" over Lenin and "Democrat Socialism" over Obama.

The message under the photos is an equally provocative kicker:

"Radical leaders prey on the fearful and naive."

An interesting reaction to the ad is the split it's caused between some Tea Party members.

The Associated Press reports:

The North Iowa Tea Party began displaying the billboard in downtown Mason City last week...

The co-founder of the roughly 200-person group said the billboard was intended to send an anti-socialist message. But Bob Johnson admitted Tuesday that the message may have gotten lost amid the images of fascist and communist leaders.

"The purpose of the billboard was to draw attention to the socialism. It seems to have been lost in the visuals," Johnson said. "The pictures overwhelmed the message. The message is socialism." He said he didn't know of any plans to remove the sign.

But others in the tea party movement criticized the sign.

"That's just a waste of money, time, resources and it's not going to further our cause," said Shelby Blakely, a leaders of the Tea Party Patriots, a national group. "It's not going to help our cause. It's going to make people think that the tea party is full of a bunch of right-wing fringe people, and that's not true."

The diametrically opposed reactions to the billboard within the Tea Party itself seems like more evidence that those who identify themselves as members shouldn't all be viewed as monolithic.