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February 4th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

Welcome to the Tea Party: Florida showdown

Editor's Note: CNN's Jim Acosta takes you inside the Tea Party movement and sits down with those who started it to talk about the factions within the movement and the first ever 'Tea Party Convention.' Tomorrow on American Morning, we'll tell you about a Carnival cruise to the Caribbean where Tea Party protesters sound off on the president.

By Jim Acosta, CNN

For Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist it's the hug that just won't let go.

His embrace of the president and of the stimulus program at a town hall meeting last year could cost this once rising GOP star a shot at a U.S. Senate seat.

Meet Marco Rubio. He's a darling of the Tea Party movement and is challenging Crist for the GOP nomination for that Senate seat.

"What I find at these events are folks who've never been involved in politics before," says Rubio.

Rubio takes his message of smaller government and lower taxes to Tea Party rallies. And his YouTube page features Tea Party activists venting their anger at Washington.

Polls show Rubio has closed a 30 point gap and just might win the party primary.

Would he be the first Tea Party senator if elected?

“It's not a political party," Rubio says. "I'm running as a Republican."

Crist, by contrast, is no Tea Party animal.

For groups like the Tea Party Express there's no contest.

“You wanna know why there's anger with the Republican Party? Republicans embracing massive tax and spend strategies? … That's what Charlie Crist did," says Joe Wierzbicki of the Tea Party Express.

Tea Party groups say millions of independents, Republicans and even some former Democrats are ready to take down some of the biggest names in politics – from Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to Republican John McCain.

Crist, who has a 50 percent job approval rating, is not backing down from a Tea Party fight. He defends the stimulus as a job saver and notes Rubio has stated he too would have accepted funds from the program.

"About 20,000 teachers would be out of work today in my state. I can't in good conscience look 'em in the eye and say you know you and your family are going to be without a bread winner. People have to eat," says Crist.

He's gambling conservatives will come around.

Defying conventional wisdom in his own party, Crist met President Obama for another stimulus event last week. They shook hands for 27 seconds.

"I think people really want … I think they're honestly kind of tired of the bickering they see coming out of Washington. I think that's part of the change they want to see, it's part of the reason I'm running for the U.S. Senate. I think we need more civility," says Crist.

Tea Party activists have the GOP so worried that some in the party have advocated subjecting Republican candidates to a purity checklist.

Filed under: Politics • Welcome to the Tea Party
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Wayne

    Wow, the misinformation here is driving me nuts:

    Dave says Tea Party = Big Business. Most of the Tea Party people I know are small business people, not big business.

    Bill says there are no Hispanics in the Tea Party movement. Marco Rubio, one of the Tea Party heros is Cuban. Les Philip, a black Tea Party candidate for Congress said this, “Myself, and several other black conservative candidates, have enjoyed broad and growing support from the tea party movement,” says Phillip.

    Those of us that are opposed to the progressive agenda of tax and spend are fighting for the economic survival of our country. We cannot stand by and watch our country go bankrupt.

    We are $14 Trillion in debt. If interest rates rise to 7% again, we will be paying $1 Trillion in interest! This is comparable to a person having spent too much on a home and financing it with a low adjustable rate mortgage. Then when the homeowner cannot pay his mortgage payments, he takes out a 2nd mortgage. Does anyone see a catastrophe in the making?

    February 15, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  2. Wayne

    In response to Greg:

    Raising taxes will not lead to economic growth. Keep taxes low and cut, cut, cut spending.

    February 15, 2010 at 9:42 am |
  3. Wayne

    I can tell that many of you who have posted negative views of the Tea Party have never attended an event. If you did, you will find the attendees to be very ordinary, every day citizens expressing their honest views. Most are independents that have conservative views and are not wed to Republicans. Many have sworn off the Republican party, because they have become Big Government Light.

    The common thread is that the Tea Party does not believe that government can solve our problems. Indeed Government is our problem.

    I think it is pathetic that Tea Party people are being labeled as bigots or stupid. If you took the time to attend an event you would quickly learn the opposite.

    What I find truly unique here, is that the Tea Party movement has not leader. Doesn't that make it truly "grass roots?"

    I also attended a Congressional town hall meeting. The vast majority were voicing opposition to government run health care and this group was totally independent of each other. By contrast, most of those expressing support were bused in by a local union. Now, which group would you call "grass roots"?

    February 15, 2010 at 9:38 am |
  4. greg

    The Tea Party seems more like a faction within the Republican party; and though it has a populist feel, the supporters I know of are 100% hard right-wing. Big ideas are things like cutting the capital gains tax to zero; a truly populist idea would be to raise it to match the regular income tax rates so that the owners of capital are not given tax advantages over the people who do the work. I am in full agreement that we cannot continue as we are...I was against the Bush defecits and I'm against Obama's. For me, if the Tea Party wants to move beyond the kind of ideology that has put the country in a bind, we need a combination of taxes and spending reductions...and let's be specific. It's easy to say cut taxes. It's hard to say poor children don't get their free breakfast or seniors get less medical care. Unfortunately, we have many hard choices to make and the Tea Party doesn't seem interested in a genuine conversation. Which is too bad–because neither of the majors appear interested either.

    February 8, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
  5. Dave in Florida

    Tea Party = Big Business.. The American Patriots that founded America would be turning over in there graves.. The were for The American Working Family!! Not mouth Pieces for Big Business, Banks and the Insurance Industry.. Patriots were proud of there American Government and would NOT screw the America's Working Families to score Political Points.. Hoping that the President fails to help everyday Americans so they can control congress. They should be ashamed!! They should take these teabaggers out and tar and feather them... I notice they like to drive on tax payer highways to go to tax payer paid parks to hold there events with free speech that there Government Guarantees them.. They just seem to be a bunch of cry babies who are even unwilling to take any responsibility for any portion of the mess they created... They seem to think every thing that is wrong with America is the Democrats and everything that is right is Republican.. That is the definition of a fanatic and that is what our boys are overseas fighting are a bunch of Fanatics.. Unfortunately Freedom is not FREE!!

    February 8, 2010 at 1:22 am |
  6. John E

    The country is in crisis and the 'Tea Party' mob does nothing but attack and talk about revolution. After 9/11 even those who despised Bush and thought he'd stolen his election supported him because the country needed to come together to solve problems. He promptly used the attack to win the mid-terms and his re-election (also stolen via Ohio). Since you can not support the elected President for even a moment in this crisis, the only solution is to smash your 'party"s selfish, destructive existence until you are no longer a threat to the progress this nation needs. When you decide to become Americans united in finishing the two wars we involved in and recovering from the depression your former president created you can suffer from the lashing you're going to get from me and those who actually care about and understand the situation. There is nothing patriotic about the 'Tea Party'. It is disaster on wheels.

    February 8, 2010 at 12:13 am |
  7. Dave

    If these people believe this is a 'movement' and not a 'political party' then they never grew up. I just see it as veiled contempt for those leader that don't necessarily meet WASP standards, in every sense. If they were true Americans, they would stand behind a President who is making the right choices and is exhibiting leadership like we have not seen in this country in many, many years. Hard decisions need to be made and these people are just afraid of change.

    February 7, 2010 at 10:56 pm |
  8. Mark

    Just a question – How do you plan on solving the economic problem? We have: two wars; reduced income due to the tax cuts and loopholes for those who make $500,000/yr and above; and an economy that's trying to turn around. Do you really think tax cuts are the way to go without throwing the economy into a bigger downturn? We need real answers and the ability to discuss these things civily and rationally. Believe it or not those that disagree with you are also Americans and want real answers not anger. Bad decisions get made when made in anger.

    February 7, 2010 at 10:05 pm |
  9. mcm,

    do not understand how you can easly not look at how we got here and can only blame whoever has to fix it,8 years of crap can not be cleaned up with getting your hands dirty,Unless you have some way of letting someone else get dirty while you justify standing on the sideline pointing that ever knowing finger(S.P.)lets blame the tow truck driver for pulling us out instead of the fools that drove us in!!!!lets face it,the tow driver did dent the vehicle when he said he would;nt. darn,
    maybe the tea revelers still think the guy that was driving did'nt actually STEAR the car?somehow we ended up in the ditch with out having to be DRIVEN?Somehow America just woke up 2009?

    February 7, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
  10. gary james

    Where were these dummies when Dubya was ruining this country (and robbing the treasury)? It is all about race and nothing else. Do you see any black or hispanic folks at their rallies? I am a white Southerner (thank God I live in a "Blue" county in a "Red" state) and I despise them. They are so ignorant and so racist! They are being led around by Limbaugh and Beck like a herd of dumb sheep!

    February 7, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
  11. Keith Long

    You anti-Tea Party people disgust me. You seem to believe that anyone who doesn't believe in bigger government and more and constantly growing government social programs should just keep their mouths shut. They have the same freedom of speech as you socialist shills.

    February 7, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  12. Leo

    After hearing Mrs. Lipstick last night at the tea party convention. I'm certain a lot of Red Cat Rebublicians will be switching party's.I got the impression of that ole subsitute teacher. with that shrill voice, come on kid's settle down.....class is about to begin...I know women that work at the local courthouse that sound more intelligent than this women. That actually work in government. I guess she thinks she can get elected over her look's or something. She just repeat's little one liners...... Anyone can do that. As far as not excepting Government money for projects Did'nt she take money for the Bridge's to Nowhere project's in her beloved Alaska... Hum......

    February 7, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
  13. Don Loranger

    Did not anyone else notice the black marking pen notes that Sarah Palin had written on the palm of her left hand for her Tea Bagger presentation? She consulted them frequently during the Q & A session, especially when asked for her top three priorities. After criticizing President Obama for his use of a "teleprompter", it seems the height of hypocrisy to make these sort of "off hand remarks".

    Bigfork, MT

    February 7, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  14. Mike

    With Palin so involved in this movement, I will NEVER vote for a Republican again........EVER!!

    February 7, 2010 at 10:31 am |
  15. Bill

    What percentage of Tea Partiers are African American? Hispanic? Jewish? Native American? Arab Americans? The Tea Party stands for racism – nothing more.

    February 7, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  16. John

    Oh yeah and as for Charlie Christ? That guy is a joke, disgust me, thanks for helping out all the Floridians with Property taxes and Homeowners Insurance, lost my vote PAL. . There is CHANGE coming. You just have no idea. . Liberty! ! Constitution! ! ! Revolution!

    February 7, 2010 at 3:14 am |
  17. John

    Our own country is in trouble. Jobs, Foreclosures, Outsourcing our jobs. Why dont our GOVERMENT distribute some money to the people, GAVE BILLIONS TO BIG NAMES BIG BANKS. What about us little people, let us lose our lively hood? Go ahead? Watch us stand up.

    February 7, 2010 at 3:05 am |
  18. Carl

    Hey, right-wing wackos should be taking part in the political discourse. But it is hard to bear without laughing.

    February 7, 2010 at 12:28 am |
  19. Rottweiler

    I was curious about the Tea Parties, the media seems to be all over the map on them. I've heard alot about vulgar signs held by violent protesters. So, I went to a Tea Party in San Francisco recently. I stood back and watched....... I was looking for signs, racest ones, guess what? I saw 2 out of several hundred I could see from my vantage point. Most were dispariging Obama's policies. Comparing them to the Anti-Bush protests I have seen on the media, these signs were positively polite! I saw NO guns. No Skinheads. I saw every racial comunity represented, yes primarily white, kinda like the violent anti-Bush protests. Speaking of violence, yes there was some. A FEW loud, foul mouthed individules with nicely printed signs mostly disparaging America, tried to intinidate a few female protesters. Even roughing them up. The Police escorted the miscrients off, screaming vulgarities all the way.
    I realy wanted to see some of these violent and racest signs mentioned on this news outlet, as well as others......... I was surprised to find a bit of dificulty doing this... I found a few, mostly from organizations who would want these in the public eye. I found a FEW, a couple were definately ugly, most were just as I saw. Dispariging the left wing agenda. Comparing these to the way Bush was treated, the signs were positively polite!
    If anyone has proof of violence or racest expression, tell me where to see it. I'm not interested in being told about them without any proof.

    February 6, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
  20. mss

    This is what angers me about both parties that a hug can't occur between a Democrat and Republican. Can't we all just get along:-)

    When the 2 parties don't get along the American people suffer.

    February 6, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
  21. DCW

    Hello everybody,
    I am truly confused. I don't know Mrs. Palin personally, but I don't understand why she is so popular. All of the problems in Washington have been there way before President Obama and Bush. As a previous person stated, where was the Tea Party then? Secondly, Mrs. Palin may be someone who looks and acts like a common person. However, I believe (could be wrong), the American people are looking for someone with a substantial education. I don't mean an elitist but, but someone with common sense. Mrs. Palin is currently repeating every statement made by political pundits, members of Congress, and other Republicans.

    Why can't Kay Bailey Hutchinson or some other Republican female with common sense be the spokes person? Why is everyone so afraid to speak about this. If you notice (to my knowldege) no other Republican female has backed her, nor have they spoken publicly for her. Just a thought.

    Finally, for her to invoke Christianity at a place where people are only there because of their dislike for a African American President, I don't get it. Truly, if the Tea Party pepole really felt this way about government, and their concerns were legitimate, as an African American and Veteran, I want to be a Tea Party member too.

    As a military veteran who has served over twenty years working for the federal government, this administration is not the first to have politicans who commit criminal acts and have tight relationships with special interest groups and it wont be the last.

    Additionally, until the media, politicans, and other venues explain that we have a three party system and the President is but a man and can not govern by himself, the people will continue to be illiterate to the truth. President Obama, can not make laws, only Congress can. He can not do anything alone. Wake up people.........

    February 6, 2010 at 9:46 pm |
  22. runswithbeer

    Did anyone in the Tea Party EVER take the time to actually read the Constitution? I'm a Constitutionalist Liberal. That means the Constitution First, Liberalism Second. In practice that means if you can get 2/3's of Americans to agree on just about anything, I'm for it. Folks please read and study the Constitution. DO NOT TRUST ANYONE ELSE'S opinion or banter. Read it with your own eyes.

    February 6, 2010 at 7:41 pm |
  23. CW

    I will take the tea party seriously when these people vow to give up their Social Security and Medicare when they have recovered their contributions plus interest. Until then, most of them are just old white people benefiting from social programs and spouting simplistic solutions to governing. Tell them we're going to reduce their taxes by cutting back their Social Security program and see how many of them are anti-socialists I doubt that their fervor runs that deep, but if you are really against socialism, how can you accept social benefits? It's the new Know-Nothing Party.

    February 6, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  24. Bob Smith

    What on earth makes CNN think this dumb convention of 500 people is even remotely newsworthy? If it were 500,000 people it would scarcely merit the amount of coverage they're providing.

    February 6, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
  25. Daniel

    Bottom line: Americans love debt. Americans love to spend spend spend, and the politicians they elect are simply shadows of the Americans who vote for them.

    Cutting spending will create a lot more angry voters, even more so than the vocal-minority tea party is now. Democrats are addicted to pork, Republicans are addicted to military pork AND tax cuts. Neither one is 'balanced-budget friendly', they only care about making it to the next election and showing off their prizes.

    It will take a catastrophe like 30% annual inflation before the majority of Americans will accept (if ever) a fiscally responsible congress...both parties just love to spend spend spend. Where was the tea party when Reagan was racking up trillion-dollar deficits in the 80's? And even with 30% inflation politicians (and especially the media) will simply find something else to blame it on.

    The very second Obama has a surplus in his second term (like Clinton did), Repubicans will "forget" the fiscally responsible, "balanced budget" rhetoric, and demand it all be spent on tax cuts.

    February 6, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
  26. Robb

    It's so easy to say we want small government, but no one wants the programs important to them cut – whether it's education, defense, welfare, head start, etc. Everyone wants to throw everyone out of office, but not their own legislator who brings lucrative contracts to their state, helps them get new highways, etc. I could go on.

    The Tea Party folks love to dish out populist ideas like low taxes, small government, etc., – who doesn't love these things. But in truth, no wants to make the tough choices, no one wants to take an honest look at what this would do to the economy, employment, etc. and no one wants to take responsibility for what might happen. Instead, it's easier to point fingers at everyone else for our problems. It's just another pseudo-movement that's causing a media frenzy. And hopefully, it will be a short one.

    February 6, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
  27. Tristan

    Fiscal responsibility starts and ends at the Pentagon – the biggest example of socialism in America, and a beast mostly fed by Republicans. Maybe we need an intelligence test for voters?

    February 6, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
  28. cardog

    To Joan...The Tea Party bigots ARE
    negative. For anyone to give these people any type of credibility is insane. To say that WE do not want a socialist nanny state tells me a lot about you. At a town hall meeting last year in my area, I asked the crowd there how many were on Social Security as well as Medicare? Most raised their hand. When reminded that these two programs that they participated in were "Social" programs, you could not imagine the hostility I got in their response.
    The point is this, Americans want a perfect government (little or none).
    Americans want to be perceive as generous & caring. Americans want to be perceived as compassionate, what a joke. What a lot of Americans do not want, especially if they are employed or have generous retirement plans, along with their Social Security and Medicare, is any type of tax to pay for anything that will help others.
    We are involved in two wars that were started by the Republicans, with the support of some Democrats, the economy is in the tank and was put there by the policies of the Republican party. The housing market has actually gone into a depression state, again caused by the policies of the Republican party.
    Along comes these angry white people who see their world coming to an end. What is that world? It's a world were they were top dog, mostly employed, mostly in control. The population of our country is changing and changing fast. This is the fear the Tea Baggers fear the most.
    No one will say that, no one will use the old slogans of long ago to describe that fear, but belive me, it's there. They now use buzz words, like Let's take our country back, We do not want a Socialist country, and the part that is most visable that they cannot mask is their distain for President Obama.
    Instead of being proud of their country that we now have an intelligent young leader that wants to do the best for all Americans, they wake up daily hating this man. Those of you who can relate to any of the above, ASK YOURSELF WHY THAT IS, REALLY!

    February 6, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  29. Sam

    I understand why the tea bag guys are so angry. Obama is spending money on America. If he wants to get it by the tea party people, all he has to do is put it on pallets and send it to Iraq first. Then maybe these cowboys at the tea parties with their guns will go over there and protest the spending of 'their' tax money. Why are the war hawks always the first to wine about taxes. We never would have had these wars if we thought we had to pay for them. Wa Wa Wa.

    February 6, 2010 at 11:37 am |
  30. Henry Barwood

    I disagree with most of the posters that this "movement" is only a transient component of the Republican Party. It is well orchestrated, and derives directly from the ultraconservative lords of commerce who have controlled the US since the Reagan "revolution". As has been said before, they do not want to govern, but to rule.

    I think the Baggers will be with us for a long time, and I dread the damage they, and their fellow Republicans, will do to the future. A country that lacks innovation, fears change and seeks only to maintain the status quo is doomed to long term failure.

    February 6, 2010 at 11:28 am |
  31. Mary Kay

    No tolerance is right. No memory of how their party caused our problems. No appreciation for what they receive from the government. No willingness to work together.

    And the media seems to forget that the majority of the people elected our president. He should receive more respect – and so should his policies that the people voted for.

    February 6, 2010 at 9:31 am |
  32. Netta

    According to CNN news this morning the tea party convention has approximately 600 attendees with about 1100 expected for Sara Palin's speech. How do these numbers warrant the 24-hour news coverage. Also, I don't see any people of any color involved in this movement.

    February 6, 2010 at 9:28 am |
  33. zzmook

    The Tea Party started as a mix of Republicans and Independents that felt that electing President Obama was a Really Bad Idea. You're for smaller government and less wasteful spending? OK then, where were you during the Bush administration? Why did this movement suddenly take hold right after Obama got in? Why does it's leadership have strong established ties to hate groups?

    The fact of the matter is that while some of the ideas aren't awful (justifying costs, balancing budgets), the Tea Party gatherings are like the Lollapalooza of right wing hate now. There are better avenues for expressing legitimate concerns than hitching your wagon to hate-filled wack jobs like Tancredo.

    A solution to the problems in Washington? More like the problems in Washington spreading out to the rest of the country.

    February 6, 2010 at 8:52 am |
  34. Pete Peterson

    All the coverage has been frustrating. The tea party hold the liberal idea that the people can govern themselves. Exactly the same revolutionary idea the founding fathers held. Obama and Bush expanded government to dangerous levels. The federal government wants to be involved in an ever bigger part of each individuals life which reduces freedom. We don't want the government to be our nanny. The government has also been a poor steward of our money and we want it to stop. When the president says we can save hundreds of millions in waste and fraud in medicare to help pay for his government health care program – we say; how about you show us the money. Save the money first and put it in an independent account and when the government has saved enough, then we can talk about health care.

    February 5, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  35. Dan in FL

    Many members of the Tea Party appear to be people who want something for nothing. They demand lower taxes, but they don't offer meaningful ways to cut government expenses, much less ways to pay down the current public debt. While our current political parties are a disaster, the Tea Party only offers simplistic concepts without real solutions. Meaning reform will only come when we stop electing professional politicians and start electing public servants.

    February 5, 2010 at 7:51 pm |
  36. Nancy

    Can someone point to the part in the Constitution where the government is supposed to provide you free health care, free education and other nanny state social programs? Is it ok to take my money, not let me invest it and then dole out small portions when I retire at a very old age and dare call it a "security" program? I don't think so!

    February 5, 2010 at 7:16 pm |
  37. Nancy

    Visiting various cities to join the Tea Party protests I have met many people with similar complaints. The vast majority of Tea Party attendees advocate fiscal conservatism and personal responsibility; they could care less about social issues. This element has been a long standing GOP tradition until the GOP was hijacked by the neoconservatives who intrude into the social aspects of peoples lives. I truly believe the Tea partiers stand for smaller government and less intrusion into people's personal lives, isn't that what the GOP once stood for? What happened?

    February 5, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
  38. Tim Choate

    Tea Party people are not about either party. They are not all Republicans nor are they all Democrats nor are they all Independents nor are they all white nor are they all employed or carry health insurance. THEY/WE are a group of people who believe in the Founding Fathers, who believe in the Constitution and who believe in liberty. We demand a responsible government void of working non-political arenas and a free market. We believe in the Amercian Dream. It is that simple. WE are a group of people who refuse to let this great country go quietly into the night. WE will get politicians into office who follow the same mantra or they will be voted out. It is that simple. Don't like it? Tough. You believe in the European style socialism? Go somewhere else. I, like many many many many others, have had enough of your kind and your insistence of driving this country ever more into deeper and stinkier waters.

    February 5, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
  39. Gatorfla

    Two points from the comments above:

    1. People vote on issues not for a party – yet once elected, the representative votes along party lines and not as an individual (most of the time, can't break ranks)

    2. Which is worse, tax and spend democrats or spend and deficit republicans. Seems like they both don't know how to shrink government.

    The Tea Party as a movement is great if it gets people talking so they actually vote. What was the turnout at you last local election? 30%, 20%? Most people follow, few lead. They enjoy going to Tea Party protests to get on the news but are they actually backing it up with actions? Remember #1 above, when the right candidate comes forward and mimics their ideals they will support him/her and get him/her into office. When he/she gets there, will they stick to those ideals or follow the party line?

    In AK, there was a state rep that campaigned on not using the oil money (PFD) to boost the budget. The gov and republican party decided to look into it. She broke ranks and held to her campaign promise. They kicked her out of the caucus and stripped her ranking committee posts. So, who do we really elect the person or the letter after their name.

    February 5, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
  40. robert/tallahassee

    I didn't vote for Crist, but now wish I would've given him his due when considering my vote. I used to apply my beliefs, straight-along party-lines.., and I 'm NOT a Republican, but the devisiveness along party lines has become intolerable. Eight years of the worst, Republican rule in US history got us to this point, but Crist has shown that he could work with anyone, regardless of political affiliation. I'm proud to be a Floridian again, Bush took that pride away. Crist has shown care and consideration that was NOT present when J.B. was at the helm in Florida. Voting-in Rubio would be a mistake of elephantine proportions in Florida. He is anti-environment (a key element in Florida's economy) and anti-regular-guy. The reason the elephants are angry about taxing is because they have had the luxury of the biggest tax-breaks of any group of people.., for a very long time.., ask any one of them, and their issues are all about money. It sickens me. When we are all choking on the fumes in the air, puking from the pollutants in the water, and beseeching the gods for help because we've raped the planet dry, what will your money get you? Time to wake up. The same-ol, same-old, Republican on-message crap doesn't fly anymore. Time for some new thinking and attitudes. Gov. Crist, whatever happens, you are doing the right thing.

    February 5, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
  41. John

    The "Tea Party" movement is a mixture of people with varied grievances, and they don't always mix well. A goodly number of complaints are the same as those forarded by the "United We Stand" effort originally launched by Ross Perot and later advanced by Pat Buchanan. While fiscally conservative, this branch also has a very strong attitude that government and politicians of both parties are corrupt, incompetent, self-serving, and should be fully term-limited.

    The current movement shows that those of the prior third party movement have not found a political home and still seek to create one.

    Another branch of the Tea Party movement comes out of the Libertarian wing of the Republican Party. Mixed in among these are extreme right activists including the "Birthers" and those denying Obama is native-born – people whose extreme views discredit the movement and turn more moderate folk away.

    The Tea Party movement does demonstrate a critical political point made by historian Michael Schudson in "The Good Citizen:" That organized parties are losing their grip on the electorate.

    February 5, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
  42. Bubba

    It's not a political party; it is the Republican Party. And we all know how un-political THEY are.
    These are the same people who called me a traitor in the Sixties for being anti-VietNam War. "Oh, the president must NEVER be questioned," they were wont to declaim, "For his election is ordained by God." I guess that doesn't hold true anymore; did God change or is it just the president's skin you despise with such virulent hatred? Take your Alzheimer's pills and go away, you old fossils.

    February 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
  43. Rett

    The problem is that the Dems and GOP don't offer a difference in fiscal policy. Bush was a spend thrift liberal and the GOP just went right along. The Tea Party at least offers a cut spending/taxes platform.

    But without tackling the budget items for Defense, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, there is no way to reduce the deficit. I am not sure anyone would get elected on the platform of cutting any of these.

    February 5, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
  44. Junior

    The tea party is a front for the Republican to give them a boost for the election year. When Bush was President the whole country support him even when he was ruining the country, now obama is trying to make a difference and they wont give him a chance.

    February 5, 2010 at 11:15 am |
  45. Joane Johnson

    Another point of proof of the hypocrisy. Why is thispresident labeled 'socialist', when Nixon wasn't. In fact, if he had bargained with the democrats and stood firm on his plan, this healthcare debate would be a moot point. 60+ years of all talk and no action but it's this president that caused the debate!!! Reagan wasn't the only one suffering from memory loss.

    February 5, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  46. Joane Johnson

    They may have shut their mouths but they are still the same narrow minded bigots in my book. Why did not hear them rant and rave about a bogus war? Instead these same people called anti-war people or the ones who did not drink the kool-aid, anti-American. Where were they when the surplus dwindled? Where were they when the stimulus was requested, voted on and approved under the last administration? Spare me. I know a card carrying klan member when I see it. I feel sorry for the people who actually DO care about too big a government, too much money spent, etc. I really do. I feel the same but you are being duped by the new 'States Rights' group and when you lay down with dogs you get up with fleas.
    Just because they have shut their mouths does not mean the same tune is bein hummed. Watch the signs and placards. That will tell the tale.

    February 5, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  47. Matt

    Why does everything have to have a label on it? Why does it have to be republican, democratic, green party, independent??? Theres dems who agree on some republican views and the other way around, so in a truth, that would make that person neither republican or democrat. The media loves to label things, but when it comes down to it people vote on the issues they believe in, not the party. So let the "tea party" say what they have to say, its the issues that win the voters...

    February 5, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  48. Mark P

    I understand what the Tea Party people are trying to do. But it's ironic that they spend a lot of money stating that they want to save money. Also, it's a whole lot different working as a politician then talking about it. All these people that are griping and sniping about one thing or another should run for an office and see how they make out.
    There are many ways to create a better and easier tax program for everyone, cut costs in Government, and much more. What does irritate me as a former Councilman, we were forced by the Fed's and State officials to have a balanced budget every year. But the Fed's and State don't ever seem to be able to do that.

    February 5, 2010 at 9:17 am |
  49. Joan Dias

    I find it intersting that the only comments I've read here are negative. Is this fair and balanced, CNN? I will not pretend that I know everything about this movement, however, I am thrilled that a new party may emerge in this country to change the deadlock of the stale 2-party system. I hope we soon see that there truly is still a 'silent majority' of
    Americans who want limited government, free-enterprise and democratic independence, NOT a socialist nanny state. Let's not pretend that political parties aren't about raising money. How much are the tickets to the Rep. and Dem. conventions? You said "40 percent of us have never heard about the Tea Party....." Why not say "a 60 percent MAJORITY of us HAVE!"

    February 5, 2010 at 8:25 am |
  50. Matt

    Time to start taking the Tea Party seriously. Now that the TP whacko's have largely shut their mouths and the Tea Party is no longer just about "Spew hatred for Obama and call him every name in the book just to vent our rage over the fact that a black urban liberal was elected to President", we can start hearing their message.

    It's mainly about spending, and it's a good message. Whether the Tea Party fields a serious candidate or not, their voice is changing the debate in D.C., for the better.

    February 5, 2010 at 8:21 am |
  51. Sheri

    I can't believe Tea Party members were so stupid as to let themselves be talked out of $550. a plate by Sarah Palin. Dear god, that woman scares me!

    February 5, 2010 at 6:34 am |
  52. oscar whitehead

    why was no republicans at the boston tea party in 1773. why is the 56 signatures on the decloration of independents all democrats. what is the definacition of goverment if it is not a social program. where could this country be without the republication party. the one thing that buged me the most was tellstar being blocked and protested in 1947 and was not put up untill 1957. the party of no is not any thing new,look at their track record.

    February 5, 2010 at 1:13 am |
  53. Alan

    Are you kidding me? Diverse group? These are a bunch of angry white people that are reaping the seeds of their own destruction. It is a little difficult to feel sorry for wealthy white people that finally feel the pangs of economic woe. Until you are actually homeless you have not one issue to complain about. Mr. Porto this evening is living in a delusional reality, walking down a clean paved street in a surburban neighborhood. You can call yourselves independent if you like, but your non-verbal messages are obviously contrary to your words. You blame government for your anger, when you enjoy the fruits of government services, like roads, bridges, vehicle safety, housing codes that hold contractors accountable for shoddy workmanship, state universities, public education, parks, trails, etc. Just grow up and take responsibility for allowing the Republicans and the free market for collapsing the economy. This is coming from a white man that has seriously been homeless and did not blame the government for his personal problems, he just accepted the reality and moved on. Think before you vote! I suggest you vote after you stop being angry, or you will only make things worse.

    February 4, 2010 at 11:39 pm |
  54. Alan

    It should not be Tea Party, it should be Pee Party. These are the same idiots that voted for Bush twice. The same people that repealled the Glass-Steagall Act. The same people that changed the bankruptcy laws and did not want government interfering with their lives. The so called libritarians, no government unless it helps me group. The free market crowd that believes that the banking system should have collapsed completely so we all can be in the same situation. They have no compassion for the leaders which have kept others from experiencing a similar fate. They are purely selfish and juvenille! They have no concept of economics, let alone rational thought. They should have their voting rights stripped because they have no respect for the consequences of their actions.

    February 4, 2010 at 11:35 pm |
  55. Cal

    The Tea Baggers are peons of big business and are too stupid to realize it.I think they are skinhead wanabes. They scare the hell out of me just like palin the pin head. The Right would be banging their Bibles if Obamas daughter had a kid out of wedlock. And they look up to the bozo, its beyond me.

    February 4, 2010 at 9:51 pm |
  56. Liz Atlanta

    The republican's movement now is to divide this country. Their policies got us into this mess. I will never vote republican again. In general, they have shown they have little to no regard to what is happening to families and individuals in this country. Rather than denoucing everything the President is trying to do at this time, they spend their time and energy trying to attack and put down any agenda to get us out of this mess. Finally, my brother who died in 2007 was addicted to CNN, I started watching because of him. Based on all of the negative stories coming from Republican's, I now change the channel. We are white, black and in between, we are human being wanting to work and make a living for our families. We need Republican's and Democrats coming together to fix this!

    February 4, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
  57. GaryB

    What's interesting in my neck of the woods (Orange County, CA) is that a number of the tea baggers are retired. Prop 13 keeps their prpoerty taxes at a fraction of mine. Many of them have pensions in addition to social security (something my generation will never get). The Bush administration gave them a huge federally managed (and partially funded) perscription drug program, and medicare takes care of most of their medical. They are as beholden to the government trough as anyone on welfare, yet all they do is whine when services are cut in the least or whine when the government decides to charge a little for a public program that they're used to getting for free.

    February 4, 2010 at 7:27 pm |
  58. robinsoncom

    @Ron, they are angry at Repubs. As far as the poor etc., that is the role of private charity, not govt, and there is plenty of charity. The states or private schools can provide education. The best thing we can do for the poor is to create an environment of free-market opportunity and protect their civil liberties. Reagan spent too much too.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  59. Nancy

    I work for a newspaper and one of the reporters went with the Tea Party to DC for their big demonstration. Her take on the majority of the people was not hate but much ignorance about ANY of the issues. Too much Beck and Limbaugh and no thinking for themselves. They will not be able to sustain their strength with no brains and no leadership.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  60. Ed Tallahassee

    I think the Tea Party will be to the Republicans what the Green Party is to the Democrats.

    The difference is that they are pushing the Republican Party so far right they won't be electable. You'll see the samething that happened in NY happen in Florida, but the difference is that they'll be handing over a Senator's seat, not a Representative seat.

    February 4, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
  61. robinsoncom

    I am furious at these anti- tea party posts. The "where were you when..." and "you are backed by so and so" ... these people don't get it. The tea party people are a MIX of different people with different backgrounds and different alliances and different political pasts. But they are all focused on at lease this: they want low taxes, low spending and strict Constitutionial government. For one, I had no idea years ago just how messed up this country was. No idea. Our foreign policy is oppressive and our fiscal house is bankrupt. NOW we are paying attention.

    February 4, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  62. duvallone

    I think it is admirable to want civility, but I do not want civility at the cost of caving in to the tax and spend administrations–democrat or republican. I will vote for the conservative candidate–fiscal conservative. I could care less about abortions or social issues–I figure that is none of the government's business anyway (although they have made it theirs).

    February 4, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
  63. Jim M

    The tea partiers still provide no solutions.

    February 4, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
  64. Ron

    It seems to me, people should be angriest at the repubs. Their policies got us into this mess. I normally do not vote for any incumbant, but I will never vote republican again. In general, they have shown they have little to no tolerance for anyone who might be different in some way.

    I was a republican during reagan's time in office. I believe in small government, low taxes, etc., but not at the expense of people. Kids need education, poor people need help to survive, and everyone needs healthcare reform.

    If one does not have the compassion to see the plight of others, and feel the need to help, then we as a country and civilization are doomed to extinction.

    February 4, 2010 at 3:21 pm |

    Teaparty movement are grifters. These astro turf sheep are being scammed. A fool and his money... . Ask Blackman and Michelle Bachman why they pulled out muttering about for profit.

    February 4, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
  66. jim vicalvi

    I agree that it is a movement and not a political party. However, there are people, for example, the Tea Party Express, trying to take over the movement in the name of the republican party. Just like the democrats and their lead shill, obama, they just don't get it. The reps. are just as corrupt as the dems. Vote them all out!!

    February 4, 2010 at 10:37 am |
  67. Dave Schreiber

    I have liked Jim Acosta's other work, but his coverage of the Tea "party" is so frustrating. It is as if he does not get it, that the tea party is not a political party. It is a movement, ill defined as it is. Party like Republican Party denotes and organization. Party in Tea Party is a play on words for the Boston Tea Party action.

    Jim showed it again when he asked the question of Rubio and got corrected by him. Come on. You are a professional pundit. You show the same fault the day before

    February 4, 2010 at 10:24 am |