Tucson's Tea Party rallies against health care bill

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The nationwide Tea Party movement was born out of huge deficits and mistrust in the government. But is it big enough in Tucson to impact elections?

Roughly 800 Tea Party members gathered Thursday night at the Hilton El conquistador. They're upset about the health care bill that just passed. And they plan to do something about it.

Days after President Obama signed the health care bill into law, hundreds of angry members from Tucson's Tea Party gather to unite around the phrase, "Hands off my health care."

Tom Jenney speaking for Americans for Prosperity explained the intent of the gathering, "The point of tonight's event is to examine what Gabrielle Giffords just voted for."

But they also come here to organize in an effort to put them in the best position to repeal the legislation. That means voting out those in Washington, "If we have a new congress in November. If we have a new president after 2012, it's possible we can start repealing items, large portions of this bill."

Political experts, however, remain skeptical the Tea Party movement can help accomplish those feats, despite their passion.

"Whether that will last very long or not, no one really knows. though in the past, these kind of independent movements have generally petered out over a couple of years," University of Arizona political scientist bill Dixon describes the Tea Party as a movement of right-wing republicans who rally around issues -- in this case, a health care bill they oppose -- which is why Tea Party members think they can unseat Congresswoman Giffords.

"It's a new world out there and I think left-leaning politicians need to watch out," says Tom Jenney.

Pima County Democratic Party Chair Jeff Rogers says that the Democratic Party doesn't view them as a threat, "it's a small group of devoted people who we disagree with and we just don't think that their loud shouting is going to defeat our candidates."

The Tea Party members argue they're simply standing up for what they believe in and they say that will serve them well come November, "I think if you ask these Tea Party members here what they stand for, they stand for American freedom. They stand for the constitution.  And if that's extreme, well, I guess we're extreme."

 

The Tea Party members Thursday night did make a point to condemn the vandalism that took place at Congresswoman Giffords' office on Monday hours after the house approved the health care bill. Saying essentially that you can oppose her views, but don't resort to such actions.