BOSTON — The cross-country Tea Party Express tour built toward a climax Wednesday with a rally steeped in antitax symbolism and an exhortation from one of the few politicians it has embraced, Sarah Palin.
The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee said in Boston that President Barack Obama must be rebuffed in this fall's midterm elections after overreaching with his first-year stimulus law and with health care, student loan and financial regulatory overhauls.
"Is this what their 'change' is all about?" Palin asked a sun-splashed crowd of roughly 5,000 gathered just a mile from the site of the original Tea Party from which the movement got its name. "I want to tell them, nah, we'll keep clinging to our Constitution and our guns and religion — and you can keep the change."
Tea partiers planned to meet for a final rally in Washington today, coinciding with the federal tax-filing deadline. Local events are also planned in Oklahoma, Ohio and other locations.
Palin also played to the crowd by trotting out a trademark line as she lobbied for more domestic energy production. "Yeah, let's drill, baby, drill; not stall, baby, stall — you betcha," Palin said.
Notably absent from the gathering was Sen. Scott Brown, the Massachusetts Republican who in January won the seat held for half a century by liberal icon Edward M. Kennedy. He cited congressional business, which included hearings about the Iranian nuclear program.
While the movement claimed partial credit for his victory, Brown has kept his distance. If he gets too close, he risks being aligned with the tea party's more radical followers.
He is up for re-election in 2012, and most of the state political establishment remains Democratic.