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Tea party protesters rail against government at Statehouse

April 16, 2010

DES MOINES - Several hundred tea party protesters rallied outside the Statehouse on Thursday to vent their anger at the government and voice support for conservative causes.

The rally, one of many across the U.S. to take place on the April 15 federal tax filing deadline, drew about 700 people, Capitol police said.

Speakers took on a number of issues, from education to immigration, but most focused on the need for limited government. Many who attended also said the tea party effort was growing stronger.

Article Photos

Raymond Leonard, of Ankeny, cheers during a Tea Party rally on the steps of the Iowa Statehouse, Thursday, in Des Moines.

''We're powerful. We're earning our place at the table,'' said Doug Burnett, an Iowa tea party organizer. ''We're not a political party. We're a movement.''

It's the second tea party rally at the Statehouse, following one last year that drew an estimated 3,000 people. Smaller rallies also were held Thursday in other Iowa cities, including Cedar Rapids and Davenport.

While tea party activists often describe themselves as being disillusioned with both major parties, there was a distinctly Republican feel to the Statehouse rally.

A number of GOP candidates mingled with the crowd, and many of those attending displayed Republican candidate stickers. Among the signs displayed by activists was one stating, ''Calling the GOP Back to its Roots.''

Most Republican candidates were not allowed to address the crowd.

Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats, seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination, was among those who attended.

''I think these are people who really believe in the platform of the Republican Party, but they are completely fed up with politics as usual,'' said Vander Plaats. ''What they want to do is have their voices heard.''

Larry Clayton, who helped organize the rally, agreed that people wanted change.

''It's a massive show of disappointment with the government,'' Clayton said. ''The goal is to put enough pressure on government at all levels to get some action. The politicians are feeling the heat.''

Ron Vander Linden, of Des Moines, was selling shirts at the rally. After years of avoiding politics, Vander Linden said he'd decided to get off the sidelines.

''I saw the way this country was going and I decided I'd been sitting on the couch too long,'' said Vander Linden. ''It will make a difference if people get involved.''

Mike Dorrell said the protesters will stay involved and focus on grass-roots politics during the coming political season.

''I think we need to start. We've sat out too long,'' said Dorrell. ''You start from the ground and you work your way up.''



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