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Reagan's son at Jefferson City rally: Liberals eating away at foundation of America
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Conservative commentator Michael Reagan compared liberals to termites undermining America's foundation as he rallied Tuesday with about 400 people at the Missouri Capitol.
Reagan said his late father, former president Ronald Reagan, would have identified with many in the tea party movement, which he described as a grassroots effort against the growth of government control and spending.
"I think of the other side as termites who eat away at the foundation, and if we don't tent them on a regular basis, they're going to keep eating away," said Reagan, explaining later that he considers the "other side" to be "liberals and progressives."
Reagan said Republicans failed to live up to their small-government ideals when they controlled the House, Senate and White House in the early 2000s. With Democrats now in charge in Washington, he urged conservatives "to find your soul" and retake Congress in the November elections.
Reagan's appearance at the Missouri Capitol was financed by the activist group Americans for Prosperity. The group's director and Reagan each declined to say how much he was paid. The event also was promoted by various tea party groups.
The Jefferson City event came two days before numerous other tea party rallies are scheduled across the country to coincide with the deadline to file federal income tax returns.
Some tea party rallies intentionally keep politicians off the stage, but nearly all the speakers besides Reagan at the Capitol rally were past or current Republican state officeholders.
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder promoted his planned legal challenge to the new federal health care law. State legislators promoted a proposed state constitutional amendment attempting to ban government health insurance mandates. Lawmakers also touted a proposed constitutional amendment abolishing Missouri's income tax and replacing it with a broader sales tax.
The crowd included some Missouri residents who participated in tea party rallies last year and have since decided to enter politics themselves.
Tim Remole, for example, built an 18-foot-long boat out of plywood and towed it to a tea party rally last April at the Missouri Capitol. This year, he was back with the boat -- dubbed the "U.S.S. Spend-U-Less" -- and said he had been recruited to run for the state Legislature by the state House Republican Campaign Committee.
"I was very upset over all the government spending -- that's why I started going to all the tea parties," said Remole, 52, a painter from the rural northern Missouri town of Excello.