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Tea party activists

by Jessie L. Bonner
| April 16, 2010 9:00 PM

BOISE - Several hundred tea party activists rallied in Idaho's capital city on tax day, bashing the reach of the federal government and chanting "Vote them out!" on their march to the Statehouse.

Thursday's rally was one of hundreds held across the nation marking the April 15 federal income tax deadline. Police estimated at least 1,500 people paraded through downtown Boise, from Julia Davis Park to the front steps of the Capitol.

They carried signs that read "No More Bailouts" and "Big Gov't (equals) Poverty." Some wore hats decorated with tea bags, while others adorned their dogs in American flags. More than one was curious that Idaho Gov. Butch Otter had accepted a speaking gig at a tea party event in eastern Washington state.

Tea partiers took on a number of issues, from health care to immigration, but for the most part they emphasized the need for limited government and voiced support for conservative causes.

Eric Crawford, a 34-year-old small business owner who lives in Meridian, said he had worked until 3 a.m. the previous day just so he could take the morning off to rally with others who share his frustrations.

Crawford's two-year-old daughter, Lexi, was perched on his shoulders in a baby harness. His wife tended to their two other small children as speaker after speaker denounced federal spending and government bailouts.

"Neither of us are really in support of any movement, it's more just, Americans fed up with Congress continuing to punish success and award failure," Crawford said. "I'm working 60, 70 hours a week right now to take care of my family and all I see are my tax dollars going to pay for other people who aren't being responsible and aren't working as hard."

The tea party movement aims to get Americans back to basics, said Tea Party Boise organizer Russ Smerz.

The rally was in protest of taxation, socialism and "everything we don't care for in government that the citizens would like to stand up and change," Smerz said. "Our biggest issues are excessive spending, intrusion and corruption."

The two-year-old organization claims 2,300 registered members.

In Washington, D.C. - the target of the movement's criticisms - several thousand rallied at the end of the Tea Party Express cross-country bus tour. Idaho Rep. Walt Minnick was given an unsolicited endorsement from the group as the lone Democrat on its of list of "Tea Party Heroes."

Minnick doesn't agree with the tea partiers on every issue, but he's also not in the habit of turning down support, said spokesman John Foster.

"Walt has always been willing to talk to local tea party groups, even if they don't agree," Foster said.

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