The Tea Party Comes to D.C., in Small Numbers, On Message

The Tea Party Comes to D.C., in Small Numbers, On Message

The Tea Party Comes to D.C., in Small Numbers, On Message

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 31 2011 1:29 PM

The Tea Party Comes to D.C., in Small Numbers, On Message

Tea Party Patriots and a small constellation of movement organizations held a rally near the Capitol just now, an attempt to back up the House and Senate GOP in the fight over the continuing resolution.

It was a small rally. I estimated that around 200 people showed up; Andrew Langer of the Institute for Liberty quickly challenged that, and said it was a bit bigger, but at the time, we were standing where the crowd was getting thick. Here's a quick shot from the other side of the rally, in front of the seven camera stand-ups:

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The media coverage of the event was intense; there seemed to be around four protesters for every reporter. (I was accidentally interrupted twice by camera crews who were trying to grab interviews with people I was talking to.) So the message of the day probably got out, and the message was: Don't blame Tea Partiers if there's a shutdown, blame Democrats. One of the only people who strayed off message was Rep. Mike Pence, who raised the possibility and inspired cries of "Cut or shut! Cut or shut!"

If there's much media focus on how small the rally was, I think that would miss the point. There was a total sense of victory on display. Cindy Wilkerson, a social worker who came up from Mississippi to attend the event, told me she was heading to her representatives' offices next -- three of the state's four members are Republicans, as are both senators -- and telling them to "hold the line." Sen. Rand Paul told me that the Democrats' increasing concessions on spending proved that they were "reading the tea leaves, so to speak."

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.