Low turnout defined several of 2011's most anticipated Tax Day Tea Party events headlined by potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates.
Only around 300 people turned out for yesterday's rally in Columbia, SC featuring Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). During her speech, Bachmann erroneously tried to pin the 2008 TARP bailout on President Barack Obama. CBS has since correctly noted that the $700 billion Wall Street bailout actually took place in October of 2008, when former President George W. Bush was still in the White House.
A similarly small number of conservative activists turned out for the April 15th Taxpayer Tea Party in Concord, New Hampshire. The event featured no less than four Republican presidential hopefuls, including Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, and Buddy Roemer. It was sponsored and organized by Americans for Prosperity, the political front group founded by billionaire oil man David Koch, CEO of Koch Industries.
Tim Pawlenty also spoke at a Boston Tea Party rally on Friday. AFP reporter Michael Mathes described turnout at the event as "notably smaller than last year's."
In 2009 and 2010, taxpayers from all walks of life attended Tax Day Tea Parties to voice their discontent with politics as usual in Washington. This year's high profile rallies were something altogether different: a well publicized preview of the 2012 Republican presidential primaries, complete with major corporate sponsors. For voters looking for a reasonable alternative to the two major political parties, this may have been reason enough to stay home.
Photo of Michele Bachmann addressing a 2010 Tea Party rally
Video of Michele Bachmann looking aweful lonely at this year's Tax Day Tea Party rally in Columbia, SC