By Kevin McClintock
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Supporters of the tea party movement rallied Thursday in Joplin to call for a leadership change in Washington come November.
“We’ve had it,” said Jacob Adams, 77, of Springfield. “We’ve had enough of ‘hope and change.’ What we need is a little more common sense.”
Between 35 and 40 people attended the event at the Peterbilt operation near Interstate 44. They listened to live music and conservative speeches from organizers of the Tea Party Express, the nation’s largest tea party political action committee.
“We just want to show that we don’t want what we now have for another four years,” said Carthage resident Rusty Beaver.
Some of those at the rally said their primary concerns were out-of-control government spending, failure by the government to reduce the deficit and a lack of non-federal jobs.
“This is the closest stop (for the Tea Party Express bus tour), and we wanted to be here, standing here, to show our support that we hate the (current) state of this country, with no jobs and no hope,” said Tom Bennesen, of Tulsa, Okla.
A similar rally was held Thursday morning in Springfield. The two Southwest Missouri stops are part of the organization’s “Restoring the American Dream” bus tour. Launched on April 27, the tour will wrap up May 8 in Arkansas, having visited 21 cities in eight states.
Beneath a few tents Thursday in Joplin were vendors selling mugs, books and T-shirts with slogans including “Don’t Tread on Me” and “We the People.”
Carl Brand, of Neosho, had a simple answer when asked what he wants to see happen in the general election in November: “Less government, lower taxes and more freedoms.”
Cookie Bowers, of Owasso, Okla., was asked why she decided to drive two hours to be at the event.
“Because if we don’t stand up and take our country back, we’re sunk,” she said.
Billie Mullins, of Joplin, said she received a phone call about the rally and decided to attend.
“I haven’t heard what they’ve said,” she said, pointing at the twin brown tea party buses nearby, “but I do believe that government is getting too big, and I think (the country) is headed down the wrong path.”
Howard Kaloogian helped organize the Joplin stop. “I think the election of 2012 will have the same type of enthusiasm and energy that we had in 2010,” he said. “The same people will turn out to the polls and make history again. They want the country to be improved. Unlimited government does not work.”
THE CONSERVATIVE ORGANIZATION has endorsed Republican Sarah Steelman in the U.S. Senate race. Steelman, a former state treasurer, is running for the GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in November.