BOSTON — The tea party movement returned Wednesday to the city from which its revolutionary spirit was born, with political conservative Sarah Palin headlining a rally before the activists' cross-country tour ends in Washington on Tax Day.
More than 5,000 people assembled on Boston Common in the morning sunshine, just across town from Boston Harbor, where colonists upset about British taxation without government representation staged the original Tea Party in 1773.
Colonists then were upset about British taxation without government representation. Some 237 years later, their target is the Obama administration, government spending and the recent federal health care overhaul.
A festive mood filled the air. A band played patriotic music, and hawkers sold yellow Gadsden flags emblazoned with the words "Don't Tread on Me" and the image of a rattlesnake.
Some 237 years after the original Tea Party, Palin rallied the tea party movement near its historical roots with a pre-Tax Day message,
Telling Washington politicians that government should be working for the people, not the other way around, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee accused President Barack Obama of overreaching with his $787 billion stimulus program. She also criticized the administration's health care, student loan and financial regulatory overhauls.
"Is this what their 'change' is all about?" Palin asked. "I want to tell 'em, nah, we'll keep clinging to our Constitution and our guns and religion — and you can keep the change."
With husband Todd looking on, she added: "We need to cut taxes, so that our families can keep more of what they earn and produce and our mom-and-pops then, our small businesses, can reinvest according to our own priorities, and hire more people and let the private sector grow and thrive and prosper."
Palin, who served as Alaska's governor for 2 1/2 years, played to the crowd as she trotted out a trademark line while lobbying for more domestic energy production.
"Yeah, let's drill baby drill, not stall baby stall — you betcha," she said.
Also speaking was conservative talk show host Mark Williams. He celebrated the movement's involvement in helping Republican Scott Brown stage a political upset in January by winning the U.S. Senate seat held for nearly a half-century by Democrat Edward M. Kennedy. He said he understood Brown not attending while Congress held hearings about the Iranian nuclear program.
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"That's a heck of a lot more important than him being here right now," Williams told a cheering crowd.
The rally, held across the street from the Massachusetts Statehouse, was the next-to-last event in the 20-day, 47-city Tea Party Express tour concluding Thursday in Washington.
Palin also helped kick off the tour in Searchlight, Nevada, hometown of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democratic target of the movement.
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