Tea Party Gathers in Mt. Pleasant

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Organizers of the first ever Statewide Grassroots PowWow welcomed more than 50 like-minded organizations to Mt. Pleasant Saturday to unite politically in an attempt to create positive change.

"You've got all kinds of different viewpoints that are in this room right now," said David Dudenhoefer, state coordinator at Campaign for Liberty Michigan. "All kinds of backgrounds that have come together and identified a problem in our government, in our culture and in our society."

Information tables lined the Saginaw Room of the Soaring Eagle Hotel as attendees swapped ideas with friends and political hopefuls. Speakers addressed the crowd, hoping to inspire them to action, whether by volunteering or by running for political office.

"When people leave here today I want them to have something tangible to do, goals both short term and long term to go after to reclaim their freedom, their personal liberties and our state back," said Dudenhoefer.

Organizer and Plainwell Patriots founder Cindy Gamrat said the event is part of a continued push by the Tea Party and its allies to bring a government responsible to the people and a return to constitutional government.

"The people were concerned about our nation and the direction it's going and we're becoming educated and informed; now we're stepping up," she said. "They're informed, they know what they're doing, and they're becoming more strategic and more proactive."

Support for the Tea Party has fallen nationally, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. The poll found the Tea Party's favorability to be at an all-time low -- with just 21 percent of people holding a favorable view of the party, compared with 47 percent that hold an unfavorable view. That's down five percent from September and nine percent from October 2012.

Event organizers say the low numbers -- perhaps a side-effect of a 16-day government shutdown -- are misplaced blame.

"Look at Congress's approval rating and what that's been and to try to blame this on the Tea Party, we've had problems with our Congress for years and years and years, long before the Tea Party ever came into existence," said Gamrat.

Dudenhoefer agreed.

"Those people in government are the ones who are responsible for this problem going back decades," he said. "It's not us. We're just trying to come in and clean up the mess that they've created."

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