WASHINGTON — Tea Party groups used Tax Day Thursday to stage rallies around the country where they pledged to turn their nascent movement into a powerful force to root out politicians they do not consider fiscally responsible.
“We’re on to them; we’re on to this gangster government,” Representative Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota and a Tea Party favorite, told a midday rally here that was the end of the three-week cross-country Tea Party Express bus tour.
Before a crowd of a few thousand gathered on Freedom Plaza under bright sun, Ms. Bachmann urged the flag-waving crowd to “remember in November” and to make President Obama a one-term president in 2012.
“I’d say it’s time for these little piggies to go home,” she said.
FreedomWorks, which has become an umbrella for Tea Party groups, held a Liberty Summit on Thursday morning to train supporters in get-out-the-vote tactics and then joined other conservative organizations for an evening rally on the Mall, which 5,000 to 10,000 people attended.
The Tea Party Express, whose political action arm spent about $350,000 to help make Scott Brown the new Republican senator from Massachusetts, released a list of seats, all Democratic, it had set its sights on in November.
On the Senate side, the list includes Harry Reid of Nevada, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Barbara Boxer of California. On the House side, the group hopes to unseat members in conservative or swing districts, like Representatives Betsy Markey of Colorado, Tom Perriello and Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia and Baron P. Hill of Indiana. Also on the list are Representatives Alan Grayson of Florida, Dina Titus of Nevada and John M. Spratt Jr. of South Carolina.
While the gatherings were pegged to Tax Day, many people at them were protesting the recent passage of health care legislation, which Tea Party groups had tried to defeat. Some wore white doctors’ coats with “No Obamacare” buttons; others held signs reading “Repeal the bill.”
“Obama pushed through the health care bill, and the Tea Party is growing because of it,” said Betty Otten, 63, who joined about 3,000 other people rallying at the California Capitol in Sacramento.
In Manhattan, about 700 demonstrators were confined behind metal barriers just outside the main Post Office on Eighth Avenue. Carrying signs reading “I am tea’ed off” and “Redistribute my work ethic,” they waved American flags while a rock band urged, “You got to be a citizen again.”
It appeared that the authorities had expected a larger crowd. Only about a third of a second confinement area, between West 30th and West 29th Streets, was filled, and a third was empty.
Fox News sent one of its biggest stars, Neil Cavuto, to Atlanta to be the host of programming from some of the rallies. .
“Even after the 2010 and 2012 elections, we’re going to stay on top of these issues,” said Mary McCane, 54, who joined about 5,000 people rallying at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta. “We’re going to keep holding elected officials’ feet to the fire.”
Reporting was contributed by Malia Wollan from Sacramento, Robbie Brown from Atlanta, Janie Lorber from Washington, and C. J. Hughes and Brian Stelter from New York.