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February 5th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Welcome to the Tea Party: Cruising for a cause

Editor's Note: The Tea Party is not a political party, but the movement is making efforts to organize. There's this weekend's first ever Tea Party Convention in Nashville, the countless rallies and hundreds of Tea Party Web sites. But there's another venue tea partiers are using to get together that you may not have heard of – cruises.

By Jim Acosta, CNN

On board a cruise ship easing into the U.S. Virgin Islands, among the thousands of passengers ready for some fun in the sun, are members of a rising American political movement having a meeting of the minds.

"People are just not ready for this mad charge to the left," says Kevin Collins, a Staten Island, New York Tea Party member.

Led by former Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes, more than a hundred conservative and Tea Party activists and their families rented out space on this ship for what was billed as a "cruise for liberty."

Cruise organizer Michael O'Fallon markets this seven day voyage as a chance to talk politics in paradise.

"Right now people are wanting to be with other conservatives. Maybe it's because they feel like they're on an island right now,” says O’Fallon, Sovereign Cruise president.

At the pre-cruise kick-off at a Miami hotel, Keyes explained why he believes the Tea Party is gaining steam.

"I think it is quite obvious that this isn't about Republicans and Democrats. It may be about the failure of both parties and the whole party system," says Keyes.

Conservative activist Alan Gottlieb sees a golden opportunity.

"A lot of people have never been involved in politics before. They know nothing about politics. They're extremely naive. They're angry and they're upset. And they're venting their frustration by attending those rallies.”

Cruise for Liberty speakers Floyd and Mary Beth Brown have a Web site calling for President Obama's impeachment.

"I know all of us need some encouragement in fighting this battle … against Obama who's trying to destroy America and I know all of you love America and are fellow patriots," says Mary Beth.

When it comes to President Obama, this is no love boat. Liberal critics of these conservative expeditions through the Caribbean say they're a picture perfect example of how the Tea Party movement can sometimes go overboard.

Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons worries the tone at some Tea Party events – on shore and off – is getting out of hand.

"Are we just talking about voting differently or are we talking about something a little more edgy than that,” asks Simmons.

Want edgy?

Keyes refers to the president as the "present occupant of the Oval Office," still questioning Mr. Obama's citizenship even though the White House and the Republican governor of Hawaii, where he was born, have produced evidence refuting the charge.

“If according to the Constitution you are not eligible for the presidency and that does turn out to be the case then Barack Obama was never president,” says Keyes.

Later this year, there will be more tea partiers in the Caribbean aboard the Liberty and the Newsmax cruise, sponsored by the popular conservative Web site.

But the founders of one leading Tea Party group wonder whether this is the best use of the movement's time during an election year.

“You know right now we're working about 20 hours a day, I can't imagine any cruise much less a Tea Party cruise,” says Jenny Beth Martin, a Tea Party Patriots founder.

But other tea partiers on these trips argue hitting the high seas is just a new way cruising for the cause.

A spokesperson for Carnival cruises sent us a statement stressing the organizers behind the Cruise for Liberty were simply renting out space on its ship and Carnival does not take positions on private group themes.

Filed under: Politics • Welcome to the Tea Party
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Raymond Moore

    You folks that think the tea Party people are racists and mean spirited please learn what we are really about. I am just an average Joe that works hard and cares what happens because I have children and Grandchildren. I Have a grandchild that is bi racial like Barrack Obama.
    If you want to learn why we the people are so upset learn the players. Google the names of some of these people surrounding out President and you will learn that most of them have said themselves that they believe in socialism some even communism. If you don't believe me look it up and stop listening to the main stream media. When you learn the fact you will also join the tea party. We don't have the money that our government is now spending and by the way the money they are now spending is also the money of your Children and grand Children. Please do your home work before you call us names we are just like you.

    March 7, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  2. Dave

    Seems like there are a lot of people who want to dismiss the Tea Party movement as insignificant. I would like to ask – what movement is it that you think is behing the Libs steady decline in seats in Congress? Wake up libs – the writing is on the wall.

    February 8, 2010 at 7:50 am |
  3. Pam Louisiana

    My, but it must be nice to have useless time on your hands and discretionary funds to sail away on a cruise ship. ( for a cause, of course). Must be a bunch of disenchanted Medicare recipients who are despondent about the way our country is headed. So they take a cruise. How inspiring!!

    February 7, 2010 at 3:07 pm |
  4. Oral

    I don't think that CNN is the problem in reporting negative news about the Tea Party....the Tea Party is creating its own problems and negative press. They talk about, getting back to "grass-roots and against 'Big government spending'....yet they have expensive cruises and some pay $549 for their recent convention. Not many of their members can even afford such extravagance. Just wondering what their government will look like if they ever get in office. Seems like what they are hating they are becoming.

    February 7, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
  5. ronvan

    Really makes me wonder what the heck is going on in our country. That people come together to voice their opinions is not the problem, it is when their "cause" or vision becomes clouded and perverted! The only thing I am getting from these people is their outrage that we have a black president!

    February 7, 2010 at 11:14 am |
  6. Linda

    "Cruise for Liberty speakers Floyd and Mary Beth Brown have a Web site calling for President Obama's impeachment."

    Impeached for what? Being elected? These people are a bunch of unconstitutional idiots!

    They appear to be made up of disgruntled Republicans that can't accept the results of the election, the so-called "Christian" right, libertarians, along with a variety of anti-government extremist groups, ranging from militias, gun fanatics, survivalist, conspiracy nuts, white supremicist groups, anti-immigrant groups, etc.

    It's to bad that ordinary uninformed people may be duped into thinking they're something that they're not, and following them.

    Hittler arose from so-called "populism", amid troubled times, and look what that wrought.

    February 7, 2010 at 12:13 am |
  7. penny Ireland

    If they can afford cruises they should quit their infernal complaining about the economy! George, you described them well. Hate Boat Cruises.

    February 6, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  8. James Cornelius

    Tempting to hope the ship sinks, OK, in shallow water, if you like, but off the coast of Somalia. The loud voices at the end of the bar would at least be silenced for a month or two as they experienced some fellow spirits who have successfully set the clock back a few hundred years...:)

    February 6, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  9. Donna

    I went to the 9/12 March on Washington. I traveled from New York by car, by train into D.C. and by foot to get to the March. Along the way, I met fellow marchers at highway travel plazas, walking to the train, on the train going into D.C., during the rally, the march and the subsequent speeches at the Capitol. The people I met were salt of the earth Americans. These were individuals who, at their own expense, took the time to travel to their nation's capital to exercise an American citizen's right to peacefully assemble and protest actions they feel are wrong. I saw many people of color among those attending. I did NOT see any evidence of racism, hatefulness or other negative behavior in the crowd. Instead, I saw warm conversations with strangers and many helpful acts. I saw individuals who were responsible and did not leave a mess in their wake. I earnestly hope that intolerant, name calling individuals and the liberal media will take an honest look at the majority of these fellow citizens and honestly report the events–without bias.

    February 6, 2010 at 10:39 am |
  10. HughesMstar

    The last comment right on. Tea Partiers and Carnival Cruise Lines, a match. The cruise lines base their ships out of other countries so they pay NO US taxes. They exploit third world workers; talking with the crew of the kitchens on Carnival is from indonesia and other poor countries, who often pay to get the job, sound familiar??? A form of slavery and the company paying no taxes!! What an excellent match for conservative change in those policies!!! The rich get richer and richer on the bodies of the poor and PAY NO TAXES!! Should sound very familiar......we had 8 years of it recently.

    February 6, 2010 at 2:51 am |
  11. notchomama

    I've read a lot of blogs on both sides, and I see nothing "positive" about the tea party movement. Is it a group of American's exercising their right to free speech? Yes, but that is about as positive as it gets. It is a party that embraces and spreads lies about a health care bill that America needs. They embrace lies about our president's citizenship, ethics and religion despite credible evidence to the contrary. Because of this, one can't even debate a tea partier-for even when one looks up and says the sky is blue, they will still insist it is red. I could look at Fox news, which is notoriously right winged and pro-tea party, and say the same thing about their news channel. "fair and balanced". Not in this century.

    February 5, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  12. John

    Looks like the economy is back to normal. People can afford to go on cruises again...

    February 5, 2010 at 4:31 pm |
  13. Mitchell

    CNN I am disappointed that you did not publish positive things about the "Tea Party" movement that I and others wrote in these blogs. Seems you favor the neg. things. You used to say you were "the most trusted name in news" but then you dropped that one. I can see why you did.

    February 5, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
  14. George

    Carnival Cruise Lines must have not been making enough money on the Love Boat and had to offer Hate Boat cruises. Can you imagine going out for a peaceful cruise with your spouse and ending up stuck on a ship with hundreds of these hateful intollerant people. I'll skip Canival this year. Thank You.

    February 5, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
  15. shaner

    The racially hateful, mean spirited, and misguided tea partiers and carnival cruise lines. A match made in heaven.

    February 5, 2010 at 11:40 am |