At Thursday’s outdoor Tea Party rally at the Statehouse, it took about an hour for organizers to get the sound system to work. The crowd didn’t seem to mind, as the event had more of a tailgating atmosphere. Occasionally someone would grab a bullhorn and take to the steps to make announcements or coach the crowd on how to defend the Constitution.
And of course there were the signs that have become signature to the Tea Party, colorfully demonstrating the free speech, one of many constitutional rights clutched firmly by the movement.
Allen Olsen, organizer with the Columbia Tea Party says he was hoping for more people than the 800 plus who were there, based on last year’s count of almost 3,000 attendees.
This year about a third of the placards and participants were for local and state candidates running in this year’s elections. The attention of the Tea Party has shifted away from Washington, says Olsen, and more to local candidates and bills.
(Olsen on today’s purpose MP3)
Olsen on purpose of rally
That bill Olsen is referring to is Representative Nikki Haley’s proposal for open roll call voting in the state legislature.
A group from Aiken was almost giddy with taking pictures and meeting new people. Part of that, says Debbie Nix, an organizer with We The People in Aiken, is that they formed only a month ago.
Nix on Aiken’s We The People
Sumter resident Ralph Baker attended the rally, though he says he is not a card-carrying member of the Tea Party Movement…yet. He says he is frustrated at the image sometimes given to this movement.
Baker on misconceptions about Tea Party
Tea Party gatherings took place Thursday in all regions of the state.