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Jim Malone | Searchlight, Nevada 29 March 2010
Grassroots conservative and libertarian activists gathered in Searchlight, Nevada to advocate for lower taxes and smaller government.
Thousands of grassroots conservative and libertarian activists with the Tea Party movement launched a national bus tour the past weekend in the small town of Searchlight, Nevada.
The Tea Party chose Searchlight because it is the home of one of the most powerful Democrats in the U.S. Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The Tea Party movement advocates lower taxes and smaller government. It was inspired by tax protests like the Boston Tea Party in the years just before the American Revolution.
Searchlight is the kind of place most people just pass through.
That is, until the Tea Party came to town. They came with their homemade signs and flags, and with costumes both elaborate and simple.
There was even entertainment -- Tea Party style. Tea Party followers do not like taxes, big government or President Barack Obama.
The main draw at the rally was former Alaska Governor and U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin who mocked President Obama's campaign calls for "hope" and "change."
"So how is that 'hopey-changey' thing working out for ya?" Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin stated.
Palin urged the crowd to defeat Harry Reid and other Democrats in November. "And in these upcoming elections, we are saying that the big government, big debt, Obama-[House of Representatives Speaker Nancy]Pelosi-Reid spending spree is over. You're fired!" she said.
The rally drew supporters from all across the country. Rusty Green says he hopes to make money because of the Tea Party movement. "This is one job that Obama has created," he said. I travel all over the country and sell T-shirts and bumper stickers, and raise hell. That's what I do for a living."
Hours after the rally in Searchlight, Democrats -- including former Vice President Al Gore -- paid tribute to Harry Reid in Las Vegas.
"Senator Harry Reid! Thank you, Harry," Gore said.
Reid made no mention of the Searchlight rally.
"I wouldn't have this job, but for you. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't realize how fortunate I am to be able to be in the Senate," Reid said.
But the Tea Party did seem to be on Al Gore's mind. "You know, anger is not a platform. Divisiveness is not a strategy," he said.
Reid has his supporters back in Searchlight too. Verlie Doing owns the Searchlight Nugget Casino and Restaurant, and has known Harry Reid for decades.
"I totally resent the fact that they have come to Senator Reid's hometown and targeted him. I just don't think that is the American way. I really don't think so. They are strangers. They don't know him at all," she said.
Searchlight was once a booming mining camp.
But the gold was taken out of these hills long ago.
These days, modern prospectors are found at Doing's casino, staring for hours into video poker machines, or playing the slots in search of a payout.
It may not seem like much, but to Verlie Doing it is Searchlight's little slice of the American dream.