April 15 brought thousands of conservatives to Washington, D.C. just as it has in years past. But today’s Tax Day protests were fueled by a unique fire in the belly amongst those present, who saw April 15 as not only their day to take a stand against taxation, but also as the starting line for an election cycle conservatives and Tea Partiers see as theirs for the taking.
The day of protests in D.C. began, not surprisingly, on a political note. The Tea Party Express presented its list of candidate targets for this year at a downtown press conference, and also rolled out their endorsement of the woman they say will defeat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Most tea partiers I saw picked up the theme, replacing their “Hands Of My Health Care” signs from the past with calls to oust specific Democrats up for reelection this year. Yet despite the focus on tea party politics, it supporters of President Obama who actually made the biggest splash at the first of today’s two big rallies in the nation’s capital.Highlights of TPM coverage of the day:
â¢ Along with Reid, the Tea Party Express 2010 target list included notable national Democratic figures like Rep. Barney Frank (MA) and Rep. Alan Grayson (FL). Some Democratic incumbents locked in tough races made the list, too, including Sen. Blanche Lincoln (AR) and Rep. Besty Markey (CO).
â¢ The star of the Tea Party Express press conference was former Nevada state legislator Sharron Angle, who the tea partiers endorsed as their candidate in the race to defeat Harry Reid. Angle spoke briefly with TPMDC after the presser, and offered up her reasoning for opposing a government ban on preexisting condition discrimination by health insurance companies.
â¢ At the big midday tea party rally on Freedom Plaza in downtown D.C., things started off on an ironic note. A group of organizers sheepishly requested Tea Partiers in attendance participate in the “Tea Party Census,” which they describes as basically like the U.S. Census — but without the socialist undertones.
â¢ There was more irony to come once the rally kicked off. The loudest and most boisterous protesters at the tea party rally weren’t anti-Obama conservatives, but were instead Obama supporters who crashed the event with a huge banner reading “Thank You For Our Tax Cuts, President Obama.” Check out video of how that went over with the tea partiers here.
The Tax Day Tea Party ain’t over yet — as things wind down on Freedom Plaza, tea partiers will head to the Washington Monument for a second big rally expected to go on well in to the evening. There they’ll hear from more conservative heroes, and some, er, undefinable heroes too: Libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) is scheduled to be one of tonight’s many headline speakers.