MOSES LAKE - A TEA Party rally in Moses Lake touched on the importance of voting for a Republican candidate this fall, despite any possible misgivings.
Event organizers estimated about 200 people came out at various times throughout the three-hour event, which took place Thursday at Civic Center Park and included several speakers along with music and video presentations.
Emcee Ann Mix, with the Grant County TEA Party Coalition, kicked things off by urging attendees to vote this coming November.
"We're going to have to fight hard to win," she said. "I understand those who want to stick to their principals and don't want to vote for someone who wasn't their preferred candidate, but if you don't vote for the Republican candidate, you're voting for (President Barack) Obama."
Mix introduced Congressional Fourth District Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., who credited the TEA Party with influencing the direction of national politics.
"I know the TEA Party is not monolithic, but I have to tell you, the TEA Party has made a profound impact and will continue to make a profound impact on the politics in this country," he said. "I speak as somebody who was a direct beneficiary of that. Prior to the 2010 election I was member of the minority party. But because of the TEA Party movement across this country, you sent to the U.S. House 87 new Republicans, and we now have a firm majority."
Republican gains made two years ago were only the first steps toward winning a contest Hastings said must be finished this fall with wins in the House, Senate and White House.
"We are only part way through this battle," he said. "It doesn't get completed until the November election and the only way we win is if we make changes across the board."
Like Mix, Hastings encouraged TEA Party members to throw their support behind the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.
"Even if he wasn't your candidate, you make sure and get behind him because he is the one that is going to be the standard bearer, that's going to make the difference if he is elected president," he said.
Hastings spoke against the Obama administration, claiming the president's actions are "180 degrees from his rhetoric," and said the big debate this upcoming election will concern differing visions of what the future of the country will be.
Also speaking at last week's rally was Mathew Manweller, Republican House of Representatives candidate for 13th District, who spoke on "Obamacare" and the U.S. Constitution, as did Art Coday. He is running against Republican state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, for the right to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell in the general election.
When asked why he turned out for the rally, TEA Party supporter Pat Hanford, of Moses Lake, chose to quote Edmund Burke.
"'All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,'" Hanford said. "I don't have to be original when other people have said it so much better than I ever could."
John and Susan Holman, of Ephrata, said they showed up because they're "conservatively minded" people who realize the need for a change. "It's not just the United States, we've got to make a big change in this world," John Holman said. "Our leaders are really in control of that, but right now it's a mess and Obama is not making it any better."
Holman said he will vote for Romney this fall, although he'd prefer candidate Newt Gingrich.
"I was hoping for someone else, but anybody that's going to fight Obama, I'll back," he said.
Susan, meanwhile, said she'd have liked to see Herman Cain stick it out.
Robert "Pops" Carter, who said he's been active with the TEA Party since it's inception, also seemed resigned to voting for Romney. Carter added the former governor of Massachusetts is probably the best bet for getting national spending under control.
"I like some of the things that a lot of (candidates) are saying, but I don't like some of the things in the past history of some of them and I haven't decided who comes closest to what I want," he said. "Ron Paul is very, very good, but Romney knows how to run money and that's our biggest problem right now. I will back the Republican nominee because we really need to stop what the Democratic party is doing to our country."
The rally was not without its detractors. James Farris, of Ephrata, stood across the street from the park, holding signs supportive of labor unions and decrying Romney for being part of the top 1 percent of American earners.
Farris, who was later joined by a couple more men, said he's been coming out to protest the Moses Lake TEA Party events since they started a few years ago "just to show there is opposition to their voice." He believes Democrats are well represented in Grant County, although many are hesitant to speak their views.
"I don't know if they're just reluctant to come out or what," he said. "I do think there are more but maybe they're just not as organized."
Others at last week's rally said they turned up out of sheer curiosity. Moses Lake resident Ty Johnson said he's interested in politics and turned out to find out more about where the country is going and how his decisions can change things.
A young man from Germany, who declined to be named, said he saw signs for the event and decided to see what it was all about.
"I think the basic ideas about the TEA Party are known (in Germany)," he said." Even on German news there is something about it. I was interested and just wanted to see what is going on."