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Carson City rally draws hundreds to protest taxes, health reform

Updated Thursday, April 15, 2010 | 3:14 p.m.

Hundreds of conservatives rallied in Carson City today, protesting taxes, the new federal health care law and promising to vote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid out of office in November.

Police estimated the crowd on the legislative mall, between the Capitol building and Legislature, at between 500 and 700 -- a fraction of the 2,000 to 3,000 that showed up last year on tax day, April 15, when the Legislature was in session and the tea party movement was in its infancy.

Of the major GOP U.S. Senate candidates, Sue Lowden and John Chachas spoke to the gathering organized by one of the Nevada tea party affiliate groups, Anger is Brewing. Gov. Jim Gibbons, who's running for re-election, also spoke.

Danny Tarkanian, running for U.S. Senate, was in Las Vegas at a tea party rally and former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle was in Washington D.C., accepting the endorsement from the national Tea Party Express organization.

The protests were part of a campaign that started with a cross-country tour launched three weeks ago in Searchlight and which wrapped up today in Washington, D.C.

Click to enlarge photo

People attend a Tea Party protest in Washington, Thursday, April 15, 2010.

In the nation's capital, the group carried signs that read "Don't Tread on Me" and "Follow the Constitution." The protesters streamed to Washington's Freedom Plaza to hear exhortations against the political order. The slogans were biting, sometimes raw: "We Want Regime Change," "Save a Seal, Club a Liberal," "Down with the Gov't Takeover," "End the Fed" and "Waterboard Bernanke." Some American flags waved upside down in the breeze.

Meanwhile in Carson City, the protesters were decked out in red, white and blue, holding signs calling Obama a socialist and praising the late writer Ayn Rand's character John Galt.

Lowden, in an interview, praised the movement. "These are people tired of yelling at the TVs and have gotten off the couch," she said.

She added that the endorsement from the Tea Party Express for Angle wouldn't affect the race. "This will be decided by Nevada voters, not people from D.C." she said.

Indeed, Debbie Landis, president of Anger is Brewing, which is part of a loose coalition of groups that make up Nevada's movement, said the Tea Party Express' endorsement, "came completely from outside Nevada."

She said, "It's irresponsible for the group to try to come from the outside. This is Nevada. We're a strong, independent, conservative state."

Later this month, 43 Nevada grassroots activists will come together - "like a jury" - to pick a candidate for the movement to endorse.

Lowden got the crowd fired up by promising to defeat Reid. "The most powerful man Nevada has ever had in Washington won't be going back to Washington," she said.

Chachas, a Wall Street investment banker, warned that those in the audience had to stay united, otherwise, Reid "can win with 44 or 45 percent of the vote."

The movement opened its tour nearly three weeks ago with a Searchlight rally that drew about 8,000 and heard from one of the few politicians embraced by the tea party, Sarah Palin. On March 27, Tea Party advocates marched to the hometown of Sen. Harry Reid to show their contempt and protest what they say is a dangerous lurch toward Big Government enacted since the election of President Barack Obama.

The Tea Party movement has been building for a year, opposing Obama initiatives including health care reform and a cap on carbon emissions.

They served as important volunteers for victorious conservative gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey and Virginia, and reached an ecstatic high when Scott Brown, a little-known Massachusetts state senator, won the Senate seat that had been held by a Kennedy since the 1950s and eliminated the Democrats’ 60-seat Senate supermajority.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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