Government protesters kick off series of tea party rallies in SD - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Government protesters kick off series of tea party rallies in San Diego

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A multi-city protest over the direction of the national government kicked off in San Diego Sunday, with about 1,000 people demonstrating against taxation, spending and a perceived takeover of private enterprise.

The Tea Party Express rallies are sponsored by longtime Republican party activists and other conservatives. They are meant to encourage Americans to voice their opinions and let them know their voices can make a difference, said Deborah Johns, the vice-chairwoman of the national tour, which is scheduled to conclude Nov. 12 in Orlando.

"They can make a difference," Johns said. "In 2010, the people will hand them a pink slip if Congress doesn't get the out-of-control spending under control."

Johns claimed about 2,500 people attended the first rally, based on text messages those in the crowd were asked to send. The San Diego Union-Tribune estimated about 1,000 people were there.

The political elite in Washington, D.C., has tried to minimize and belittle those who attend tea parties, but those who show up are everyday Americans, said Johns, a resident of Granite Bay, east of Sacramento.

"In a week's time, I've had 10,000 e-mails to answer," Johns said. "People want to get involved."

Americans are being galvanized in opposition to Obama administration policies, including health care reform, bailouts and intrusiveness into private businesses, she said.

"Obama -- the Little Red Riding Hood turned out to be the Big Bad Wolf," Johns said. "His change is not what people want."

The Tea Party Express is sponsored by the "Our Country Deserves Better" political action committee, which is run by former state Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, a longtime local conservative activist and Republican.

Organizers are using some Obama strategy, to plug into social media, with pages on Facebook, Twitter and a blog, along with a Web site.

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