The Greenville Tea Party is welcoming presidential hopefuls and their supporters to Greenville–and inviting them to hear the Tea Party message. The group is holding a rally within walking distance of the GOP primary debate venue, with Gov. Nikki Haley being the keynote speaker. Greenville Tea Party’s Executive Director Chris Lawton says their rally is open to the public.
Their message for candidates, says Lawton: “We expect them to uphold the oath they take for their office and that they follow more closely the guidelines and the structures that our founders did when they founded this country under our sacred document the Constitution.
The Greenville Tea Party is calling their gathering the Freedom rally, which started simply as luncheon plans. Lawton says:
One thing led to another. Now we have over 30 speakers, Gov. Nikki Haley to presidential candidate Ron Paul, and also Gov. Tim Pawlenty. We’re going to have a rally from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., a luncheon from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., then we’ll have a walk down to the Peace Center. It’s the National Day of Prayer, so we’ll have a prayer vigil at the Peace Center.
Lawton of the Tea Party says his group takes issue with what he says are infringements on the Constitution:
We’ve handed over our constitutional authority to print money to a private banking cartel called the Federal Reserve, which has never been audited since 1913. Our latest encounter with the Libyan conflict, there was no congressional declaration of war, which we have not done so since 1942. The Constitution is very clear that only Congress should have the power to declare war. Those are a couple of examples.
The Tea Party is also planning for candidates to come by after the Fox debate. The downtown will be busy, as it is Cinco de Mayo, National Day of Prayer and businesses open for what’s called Downtown Alive.
Other groups, the Oathkeepers, John Birch Society, Exodus Mandate, will speak, as well as the three candidates for state GOP chair.
Lawton says there are about 3,000 unofficial members of his group, which will also have a presence at this weekend’s state GOP convention in Columbia. He says from Greenville County there is “a surprisingly high number of Tea Party delegates going to the state (convention). That includes Lawton, who is also a GOP convention delegate.