A Tea Party Patriots leader tells Newsmax the group will greet President Barack Obama with protest rallies each time he makes a public appearance.
The first protest will be Monday evening at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla., where Obama is headlining a Democratic fundraiser.
The grassroots conservative organization has held rallies at previous Obama events to promote its low-tax, small-government agenda. But now it will do so every time the president speaks, according to Everett Wilkinson, a national Tea Party spokesman.
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"No matter where the president goes, or where our elected representatives go, whether they be at a fundraiser or any public event, we're going to be there and we're going to make our presence known," Wilkinson tells Newsmax. "We'll have thousands at some locations, and sometimes, when they try to hide locations from us and do last-minute changes, we may not have as many. But we will have a presence at every single one. They will not be able to keep our voices from being heard."
Members of the group have felt slighted ever since White House aides said in April that the president was "unaware" of the group's nationwide anti-tax protests. The president added to group members' frustrations when he left Washington, D.C., prior to the massive tea party rallies held there Sept. 12.
"The president ducked us," Wilkinson says. "He went to another state and held a 'rare public town hall.' Well, why did he have to go out of state to hold a town hall, when we had a million-plus people coming to D.C., who would have loved to have heard his opinion? … He gave a speech recently when the gay group had their march. So there's inconsistency. We feel President Obama does not want to work with us, and is avoiding us specifically."
Tea Party members may be much more difficult to avoid henceforth. They plan to greet the president with banners, signs, and rallies at virtually every turn.
Its leaders insist the organization is nonpartisan. Their concern over ballooning federal budget deficits dates back to the Bush administration, they say.
Wilkinson suggests the looming protests apparently caught the White House unprepared: He received last-minute instructions to move the rally to a new location farther away from the hotel entrance. This despite an earlier agreement with police that the rally would occur on the sidewalk in front of the hotel, he says.
Police also asked the group not to use a bullhorn during the rally. Wilkinson says he believes the requests are outside normal regulations for peaceful assemblies in the city.
Also Monday, Wilkinson announced that the group is launching a phone bank to contact constituents of Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, as well as moderate blue-dog Democrats. Snowe is the only Senate Republican who has indicated a willingness to cooperate with the Obama administration's healthcare reform proposals.
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