'Tea Party Express' Takes Protests Cross-Country

Jean Sadler and Karen Griggs attend the Tea Party Express rally in Sacramento i i

hide captionJean Sadler and Karen Griggs drove from Stockton, Calif., to attend the Tea Party Express rally in Sacramento. Both are worried about the government getting more involved in health care. The two met on the Internet while trying to find Tea Party events to attend.

Jeff Brady/NPR
Jean Sadler and Karen Griggs attend the Tea Party Express rally in Sacramento

Jean Sadler and Karen Griggs drove from Stockton, Calif., to attend the Tea Party Express rally in Sacramento. Both are worried about the government getting more involved in health care. The two met on the Internet while trying to find Tea Party events to attend.

Jeff Brady/NPR

Conservative political activists associated with the so-called "Tea Party" protests have started a cross-country bus convoy dubbed the Tea Party Express. They plan to stop in 33 cities.

Tea Party Express organizer Mark Williams, also a conservative talk show host, said there is a lot of dissatisfaction in the country right now focused on issues from health care reform to the national debt.

"We figured it's about time for somebody to run to the front of the parade and say, 'Follow me,' and to try and herd all these cats into a semi-coherent message," Williams said.

The Tea Party Express is scheduled to conclude Sept. 12 with a rally in Washington, D.C.

The first two rallies in Sacramento, Calif., and Reno, Nev., included a mix of speeches from local politicians, organizers and singers belting out patriotic songs.

As the Sacramento rally was starting, a line of John Deere tractors paraded through downtown i i

hide captionAs the Sacramento rally was starting, a line of John Deere tractors paraded through downtown. Farmers protested a 2007 court ruling that cut water allowances to help a small fish that has been declining in numbers.

Jeff Brady/NPR
As the Sacramento rally was starting, a line of John Deere tractors paraded through downtown

As the Sacramento rally was starting, a line of John Deere tractors paraded through downtown. Farmers protested a 2007 court ruling that cut water allowances to help a small fish that has been declining in numbers.

Jeff Brady/NPR

Jean Sadler and Karen Griggs of Stockton, Calif., met online a few months back as they were looking for a tea party event to attend. Sadler said she attended a Tax Day protest on April 15.

"That was the first time in my life I've ever protested anything," Sadler said. "I've been hot on it ever since because I don't like anything that this administration is doing." Now health care and the threat of more government involvement in it motivates her to keep active with Tea Party events, she said.

As the Sacramento rally was starting, a parade of green John Deere tractors slowly motored through downtown. Farmers protested a 2007 court ruling that cut water allowances to help a small fish that has been declining in numbers.

"If they want to save it, put it in an aquarium and wait until we have water again," Griggs said. "But don't turn off the water to our crops."

Griggs is excited that the Tea Party protests seem to be morphing into a new movement.

"I hope that a third party comes out of all this," Griggs said, "because I don't see that much difference between Democrats and Republicans."

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