Preview: Today Is Tea Party Diversity Day — Featuring Andrew Breitbart

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Andrew Breitbart, the man who helped get Shirley Sherrod fired from the Department of Agriculture, will be among the voices tea party leaders rely on to reach out to minorities at a special rally in Philadelphia today. “Uni-Tea” kicks off this afternoon with speeches from several prominent African American conservatives as well as the trouble-making founder of Breitbart.com and BigGovernment.

Event co-organizer Jeffrey Weingarten, a tea partier from Morristown, NJ, told TPM yesterday he expects the event to draw crowds of multi-ethnic faces not generally seen at normal tea party events. The goal of the rally is to show off the movement’s diversity on stage while drawing demographics not usually associated with the tea party into the movement.

“I hope people will be surprised,” Weingarten said. “From our point of view, if there was just one other than white face [in the crowd] it would be surprising. From the point of view of the outside, a decent percentage of other than white faces would be a surprise also.”Weingarten stressed that Uni-Tea, which is being co-hosted by a Philly-area tea party group, was not a response to the NAACP flap that led to a week of very bad press for the movement. Uni-Tea has been in planning since Februrary, Weingarten said, and only happens to fall after the racial element of the movement got so much attention.

But it’s the appearance of Breitbart — who was scheduled to attend months before the Sherrod video hit the airwaves and embarrassed Fox News and the White House alike — that’s likely to create the most drama today, as he makes one of his first public appearances since accusing Sherrod of bigotry against whites and calling the NAACP a racist organization.

Weingarten said he hasn’t picked sides in the internal tea party battle kicked off by the NAACP fight, saying Uni-Tea is not associated with any of the major national tea party groups (Tea Party Patriots, Tea Party Express, Tea Party Federation, etc.)

TPM’s Jillian Rayfield and I will be attendance at Uni-Tea today. Stay tuned for updates this afternoon.

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