The Tea Party Express kicked off its fourth bus tour of the U.S. on Monday with a rally in Nevada hosted by none other than Sarah Palin, the movement's de facto figurehead. The former vice presidential candidate rallied crowds with one of her trademark stump speeches, telling Tea Partiers they couldn't "party like it's 1773" until they took over Washington D.C. Will the Tea Party Express tour help broaden the movement's appeal ahead of the election? (Watch Palin's bus tour speech)
What was Palin's speech like?
"Exuberant," says Ashley Powers at the Los Angeles Times. The former Alaska governor encouraged a crowd of Nevadan conservatives to get behind Republican senate candidate Sharron Angle if they wanted to "party like it's 1773" come November. Some critics interpreted Palin's reference to 1773 as a slip-up, assuming she meant to say 1776, but conservatives pointed out that the Boston Tea Party took place in 1773. "I realize that the thought of protesting against taxes is anathema to lefties," says Allahpundit at Hot Air, "but has their memory of the Boston Tea Party really faded that far?"
Where will the Tea Party Express tour go?
The fourth Tea Party Express tour will visit 19 states in the space of 15 days, including stop-offs to support Tea Party-backed candidates in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. The tour will roll into Delaware to support Christine O'Donnell on Halloween. "Given the controversy over Ms. O'Donnell's lost-past dalliance in witchcraft," says Amanda Paulson in the Christian Science Monitor, "the timing is a gift to comedy-show writers."
What can we expect from the Tea Party Express?
"Expect big names and a lot of media coverage," says the Christian Science Monitor's Paulson. (See Palin's PAC commercial on the Tea Party for video of similar events.) That said, The Guardian's Ed Pilkington, reporting on an October 18 rally in Elko, Nevada, noted that the crowd was on the thin side: "Most of the participants were in their sixties or above and the event had more in common with a sedate charity gala than a political revolution." The start of hunting season may have affected numbers, he conceded.
What will the impact on the election be?
It could be huge, says Carl Cameron at Fox News. The Express is arguably "the face of the Tea Party," and has "energized the GOP base throughout this years' primaries and beyond." This tour is the biggest yet. But the Tea Party Express has arguably had its largest success already, says Amanda Paulson at the Christian Science Monitor. The $6 million it raised during the primaries helped get candidates like Alaska's Joe Miller, O'Donnell, and Angle onto the ballot. This tour will be a "test" of how it can motivate voters in a general election, not just "the smaller, more partisan group of voters" you get during a primary.