SACRAMENTO -- Thousands of tea party supporters in red, white and blue rallied for conservative causes Sunday at McClellan Park in Sacramento, as speaker after speaker denounced big government and excessive federal spending.
"Our founding fathers knew that a government big enough to give us what we need is big enough to take it away," said Mark Meckler of Grass Valley, co-founder and national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, launched in February 2009.
Now, he said, the grass-roots movement needs to "cut government down to size." The Tea Party Patriots' rally in North Highlands was one of three around the nation -- the others were in St. Louis and Washington, D.C.
Locally, the event sought to generate more support for the conservative movement. The group has 2,800 chapters nationally and more than 250 in California, organizers said.
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Rally speakers included radio talk show hosts Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty, as well as Republican Rep. Tom McClintock of Elk Grove and Sam Paredes of Gun Owners of California.
More than 5,000 had arrived at the air park by midday, and the number swelled slightly in early afternoon as speakers drove home the message of supporting conservative causes and electing conservatives at every level.
Some in the crowd said they were tired of being ignored. Most with a show of hands signaled they were Republican. Many raised their hands to identify themselves as homeowners.
"We want the politicians to understand that we are done with the high taxes," said Nona Konopasek, who attended with her husband, Darrell, a Vietnam veteran.
"We don't feel that the politicians in office right now respect our military or our country," she added, noting that the couple have a daughter in the Army, a son-in-law in the Navy and a son in the National Guard.
Husband Darrell Konopasek picked up the thread.
"They take us for granted," he said.
"We are just the ones who pay the taxes," she added.
Her husband finished: "The harder you work, the more they take."
The scenes were similar at other rally points in the nation Sunday, according to the Associated Press.
In Washington, at the rally organized by the conservative group Freedom Works, several thousand people marched along Pennsylvania Avenue from the Washington Monument to the Capitol. Many carried signs reading "Congress You're Fired," "Let Failures Fail" and "Impeach Obama," the Associated Press reported.
"It wouldn't bother me to make a clean sweep," said Michael Power of Decatur, Ala., endorsing term limits for members of Congress. "There are some good ones, but we can lose those."
At the St. Louis rally, sponsored by Tea Party Patriots, backers packed the area between the Gateway Arch and the Mississippi River.
Mary Jane Corcoran, 58, who works in medical administration, made the 360-mile trip from Dayton, Ohio.
"When you're used to your local tea party with 40 people, it's nice to get together with a lot of people that feel the way you do," Corcoran told AP. "This is like a shot in the arm to get us going for the November election."
In North Highlands, people carried signs warning, "Repeal Obamacare and start over," "Socialism, a cancer feeding on liberty," and "Cost of Freedom/Priceless; Cost of Obama/Freedom."
McClintock said that since President Barack Obama's inauguration, the nation has moved from sound governing principles.
"Think about what has happened during the 19 months," McClintock said, "how far we have strayed from good government" by running up the national debt.
"They have squandered our families' earnings" in bailouts, taken control of health care decisions and "refused to enforce our immigration laws."
In 2012, McClintock predicted, Obama will be turned out of office "by the greatest landslide in the nation's history."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Sacramento Bee reporter Loretta Kalb can be reached at (916) 321-1073 or firstname.lastname@example.org.