“Don’t let the numbers fool you,” Duane Holub said as he looked around at a couple of dozen people at the Tea Party Express Rally in Des Moines Monday.
“There’s still the fire,” he said as the rally near the Iowa Capitol was about to begin. “The Tea Party is still a force to be reckoned with.”
“Bigger than in ’10,” according to Howard Kaloogian, a college fundraiser and chairman of Our Country Deserves Better PAC. It was in 2010 the Tea Party helped Republicans retake the U.S. House. This year, the movement has its sights set on helping like-minded U.S. Senate candidates.
“The movement has matured,” Kaloogian said. “Candidates are seeing the Republican ranks swelled by Tea Partiers and the people have moved into campaign mode.”
The crowd swelled to about 40 before the “Restoring the American Dream” rally ended with “God Bless the USA.” There also were calls for a return to constitutional government, campaign speeches by Iowa legislative candidates and warnings about the United Nations’ Agenda 21. There was no mention of Monday being Iowa “Tax Day” – the deadline for filing state individual income taxes.
Although there’s no U.S. Senate race in Iowa this year, the Tea Party Express has a second stop planned in Sioux City later today for a rally there before heading into Nebraska, where it has endorsed a candidate in the GOP primary for an open Senate seat.
Polling shows that a large majority of Americans agree with the Tea Party’s domestic economic agenda of limited government, lower taxes and free markets principles, Kaloogian said.
For Holub, who is from Des Moines, the issue is the growing national debt.
“This is the only voice he has right now,” said Holub, as he pointed to his two-year-old grandson. “There’s no way this debt is going to be paid off in a generation.”
That makes it important for supporters to stay engaged at the national, state and local levels, Kaloogian said.
“Take it back to your precinct,” he said, encouraging those at the rally to move from transitory issues to a permanent neighborhood organization.
“We were a force, we are a force and we will continue to be a force,” Kaloogian said, contrasting the Tea Party with the Occupy movement. “We’ll prove it at the polls.”
Holub agreed. Tea Party supporters will start getting active again this summer as they get geared up for the November election.
“Democrats don’t think the numbers are still there,” Holub said, “but the Tea Party is not an organization that withers away after one election.”