BOSTON - Sarah Palin rallied the conservative tea party movement near the scene of its historical inspiration yesterday, telling Washington politicians that government should be working for the people, not the other way around.
Addressing about 5,000 people, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee accused President Barack Obama of overreaching with his $787-billion stimulus program. She also criticized the administration's health care, student loan and financial regulatory overhauls.
"Is this what their 'change' is all about?" Palin asked the crowd on a sun-splashed Boston Common. "I want to tell 'em, 'Nah, we'll keep clinging to our Constitution and our guns and religion - and you can keep the change.' "
Palin put her own spin on Tax Day: "We need to cut taxes so that our families can keep more of what they earn and produce, and our mom-and-pops, then, our small businesses, can reinvest according to our own priorities, and hire more people and let the private sector grow and thrive and prosper."
She also played to the crowd by trotting out a trademark line as she lobbied for more domestic energy production. "Yeah, let's drill, baby, drill, not stall, baby, stall - you betcha," Palin said, though Obama recently proposed to expand drilling off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
The gathering intended to hark back to 1773, when American colonists upset about British taxation without government representation threw British tea into a nearby harbor in protest.
Several speakers protested suggestions of racist undertones to the movement, which sprouted as the nation elected its first black president. Virtually the entire speaking program and audience were white. An exception was the singer of the tea party anthem, Lloyd Marcus, who made a point of describing himself not as African-American, but American.
In the crowd, John Arathuzik, 69, of Topsfield, Mass., said he had never been especially politically active until he saw the direction of the Obama administration. "I feel like I can do one of two things: I can certainly vote in November, which I'll do, and I can provide support for the peaceful protest about the direction this country is taking," said Arathuzik, a veteran.
Michael Brantmuller, 40, an unemployed carpenter from Salem, N.H., said he appreciated Palin's speech but added: "I don't know whether she's the right spokesperson, because she's such a polarizing figure and people may judge her before they listen to her."