In a sign of growing grass-roots disenchantment with Republican leadership, tea party activists are preparing to launch their first protest rally targeting the Republican National Committee on Friday.
That means GOP big shots looking for a relaxing weekend at their winter retreat in Boca Grande, Fla., could be in for a surprise when they arrive late Friday afternoon.
Sign-waving protesters will greet conservatives at the causeway entrance leading to the secluded island getaway where this year's retreat will take place. Boca Grande is on Florida's west coast.
"More than anything else, the American people expect the truth," says Robin Stublen, the conservative grass-roots activist organizing the protest. "I think they're tired of both parties spinning things."
Stublen sits on the leadership council of the national Tea Party Patriots organization.
Another member of the Tea Party Patriots council, Everett Wilkinson, tells Newsmax the event marks the first time the conservative grass-roots movement has targeted the Republican Party.
"As far as I know, this is the first direct tea party protest of the GOP," he says. "However, I suspect it will not be the last, as the GOP continues to try to hijack the tea party movement."
What triggered the rally, Stublen says, was an RNC Web site that adopted tea party name.
The site, which the RNC removed from the Internet in the face of rising tea party complaints this week, urged visitors to send an e-mail to Democratic leaders protesting their policies.
"To hold the Democrats in Washington accountable for their record tax, spend and borrow schemes," the RNC e-mail template stated, "I am sending a virtual tea bag to protest your plans to raise taxes on every American this Tax Day."
The site gave users an option of four tea bag pictures to affix to their e-mails. The tea bags carried an image of a GOP elephant, Stublen says.
Friday's rally is intended to be a "friendly" reminder to GOP leaders, warning them not to try to co-op the movement for their own political objectives.
"This isn't a hateful protest," Stublen tells Newsmax. "This is an informative protest that we want them to stay away, to keep their hands off. I think we're doing quite well in the way that we're proceeding. There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes that aren't going reported. There are a lot of tea parties being formed across the nation on the local level."
Grass-roots conservatives want to emphasize their independence from a party many feel has failed to follow through on the small-government principles it espouses, Stublen says.
"So this is just a friendly reminder: Guys, let us do our thing," he tells Newsmax.
The RNC winter retreat brings many influential conservatives together to discuss common concerns. Among those expected to attend: Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, Florida Gov. Charlie Christ, RNC Chairman Michael Steele, New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, and conservative commentator Tucker Carlson.
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