Sarah Palin's family participates in local tea party

By Jonathan Hardison

HOOVER, AL (WBRC) - Thousands of Alabamians gathered in various spots across the state today to protest what they say is big government and taxes that are too high.

Tea partiers held rallies in Anniston, Cullman, Trussville. Perhaps, the biggest was in Hoover.

Tea partiers say tax day is the perfect day to register their complaints with what they say is a government heading in the wrong direction.

The hundreds gathered in Hoover Thursday said they want a smaller government, lower taxes, and a return to basics.

"A return to conservative values," said Chuck Heath, Jr. "They keep hammering it over and over again, limited government. Let the free market take care of itself. And just downsize this out-of-control spending we're saddling our kids with."

Heath echoes the feelings of most of the tea partiers in Hoover, but his voice is unique because his sister, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, is one of the tea party movements most recognizable supporters. Palin's father, Chuck Heath, Sr., also flew in from Alaska Thursday to speak to the Hoover Tea Party and he says the movement has gotten a bad rap.

"It's a grassroots movement," Heath said. "I'm part of it, I don't jump into it all 6 feet up there, but I'm part of it. Mainly because---- not mainly because of my daughter. Even if she wasn't involved, I'd be right there. We need to bring back our country."

"What I'm not is someone who's close-minded to other people or other views," said Tea Party supporter Leah Covington. "What I am is I'm for people, and I'm for my kids having good education and a chance to have a business if they want, and a chance to succeed in what they want and not be straddled with debt from the minute they get out."

"That's the motivation of the primetime media is to smear everyone out here and act like we're the radicals when really the radicals are on the left side," said a Tea Party supporter who would only identify himself as Glenn.

Tea partiers cited a new poll from the New York Times that says about 1/4th of voters nationwide support the movement as proof of their growing momentum. So could that momentum propel Sarah Palin to a presidential bid? Her dad won't say.

"Whatever she wants to do," Heath, Sr., said. "She's very happy what she's doing now, helping out other candidates and she feels very comfortable that way. She puts her point across very very well, I think, I'm a little biased there. But whatever she thinks, yeah."

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