US Tea Partiers rally at Virginia Convention

Amid cheers from an overwhelmingly white crowd of 2,800 Saturday, former CNN host Lou Dobbs took the stage at the Tea Party Patriots Convention and gave the self-proclaimed patriots just what they wanted.

When we say, si se pueda, we mean it. Can do is English, it’s not Spanish,” Dobbs said amid cheers.

But as the demographics of the US shift and the media increasingly portrays the Tea Party movement as racist, it was unclear whether Dobbs’ message—and the Tea Party itself—aren’t just more than a storm in a teacup.

More than 30 separate Tea Party groups descended on the former Confederate capital to listen to speeches and laud the values of the constitution and small government. Speakers harkened back to a bygone era of middle class bliss and politicians stumped with familiar rhetoric about big government and bad guys in Washington. But their political platform remained unfocused.

“I’m a Tea Party Patriot, my descendents are Tea Party patriots, they fought the British,” said Phillip Roberts of Richmond. “But I think the Tea Party needs to get organized around four or five issues, and forget everything else.”

When the speeches ended, wallets came out. Merchants capitalized on the movement and the Tea Party itself raked in at least $140,000 in ticket sales alone. While many Tea Partiers expressed their frustration about where the government gets its money and how it is spent, none of them seemed concerned about how the Tea Party is financed.

I’ve already donated to the Tea Party for this event and I’ll give them more money,” said Tommy Jensen, a sponsor of the Tea Party Patriots Convention. “And as far as what the Tea Party does with its money, that’s nobody’s business but the Tea Party.”