We set out at o’dark thirty this morning from the hotel in downtown Sault Ste. Marie for a 25-minute trip to Cheboygan. The day was just dawning to our left as we approached the five-mile long Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) span over Lakes Michigan and Huron that connects the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. There’s still snow on the ground up here in the northern tier, which is just a short hop into Canada. It feels like winter, with temps in the 30’s. Brrrr….. Can’t get warm enough or coffee’d up enough.
Cheboygan is an attractive little town with an old fashioned Main Street and period lamp posts. A gazebo sits at the center of a small park, where this morning some 200 Cheboygans assembled for an 8 a.m. “whistle stop” (abbreviated rally show). And chilly Cheboygan gave the Tea Party Express a warm greeting.
Jimmy Labriola, the comedian, joined our team last night and will travel with us for the rest of the trip, which is now at Day 15. He had two minutes to make an impression and he did.
The crowd loved his jokes. “Benny”, the “hardware store owner” on the TV series “Home Improvement” was a hit, even at 8:30 on a cold and grey Cheboygan morning. Before he went on, I asked him why he decided to tour with us. “Because I wanted to experience this and I’m worried about the country,” he said. We’re glad he’s onboard. It will make what is already an amazing trip even that much more fun. He was a hit at last night’s team dinner too. Did you see it? We livestreamed and took your chat questions!
Back to Cheboygan… There was a man walking around with large flags on poles. He was balancing a half dozen of them over his shoulder. He stopped to watch the performers onstge in the gazebo. “Nice flags,” I said. He turned to me and began telling his story.
Jeffrey Allan McQueen of Rochester, Michigan was an auto worker, until two years ago when he was laid off… since then, he’s become involved in the Tea Party movement, following the Tea Party Express and selling a flag he designed especially for these times. His flags can be seen at almost every tea party, and is fast becoming recognized as the symbol of the grassroots movement.
It features the familiar Red and White Stripes, but the field of blue with white stars carries a design reminiscent of the colonial era. Thirteen stars encircle a Roman Numeral II at the center. The significance, according to McQueen is doublefold: the thirteen stars represent the Last Supper when a foundation of love was laid for all mankind. The number also represents the original colonies and how they formed a foundation of liberty based on God’s laws. The numeral II represents the Second Revolution of the United States. The American-made flags are $20. $19.95 if you order them, plus shipping charge. They’re already attached to a wooden dowel, perfect for Tea Party rallies. You can find out more by hitting his site at USRevolution2.com
McQueen is following the Tea Party Express as it makes its way through 11 stops in as many cities in Michigan. He’s got an interesting story to tell. And if we can, we’ll let him tell it on Sunday night’s radio show. UPDATE: Link here to listen to the interview we did with Jeff on April 11th while doing a rally in Erie, PA.
We just finished another “whistle stop” in Petosky, a popular resort area on Lake Michigan. Quite a large crowd there! I met a man who’s running for Congress. Tom Stillings, originally from Billerica, Massachusetts, went to college in Michigan and stayed for a lifetime. He’s a conservative running for Stupak’s seat, along with Don Belishek, an MD, both of them “newbies” to the political office. There are at least three candidates so far who are vying for Michigan’s 1st District seat in Congress.
A big rally in Traverse City, known best for its cherries. It’s the cherry capital of the world, according to local expert on all things Michigan and State Tea Party Coordinator Joan Fabiano. Joan is on board to talk to the Michiganders about “taking Michigan back from the politicians and the progressive policies that have brought Michigan to the brink of economic ruin by identifying conservative candidates, helping them on their campaigns with their time and money, getting involved in their local county parties and become precinct delegates, identify people within their local country party who share our core conservative values. If they do, support them. If they don’t, replace them. And finally, take Michigan back by asserting her sovereingty.”
The weather is considerably warmer here than the Upper Peninsula, and folks have turned out by the hundreds. In fact, some estimates say there are between 1,000 and 1500 concerned Michiganders here, carrying signs and waving flags.
Several local candidates for the 1st District have been included in the program. Linda Goldthorpe and Tom Stillings — names you’ll want to remember. Others who are vying for the seat include Don Benishek, and Donald (?) Cooper.
Cristina Corbin, a reporter with Fox News. com is traveling with us this afternoon. She writes exclusively for FNC’s online website, and says she files an average of three stories a day. When asked her impression of the Tea Party Express tour, she said she was amazed at the amount of on the ground coordination and work an operation like this requires. You can read Cristina’s reports at FoxNews.com.
A quick nap while we drove to Big Rapids where arrived over an hour late, but there they were, about a hundred of our faithful American brothers and sisters, holding the American flag, waiting to welcome us. (Unfortunately I didn’t get any pics at this stop. My brain was fuzzy from sleep, and I had left my camera inside the bus. Duh.)
Amy Kremer and Joe Wierzbicki handed me a megaphone and asked me to sing God Bless America. OMG! I had just awoken and despite a swig of bottled water before we stepped outside, my throat was dry. But it didn’t matter, because I asked them all to join me in raising their voices. Afterwards, I went into the crowd and shook as many hands as possible, thanking them for coming out and loving America enough to stand there in the grey day. It was enough to bring me to tears… they all looked so expectant and hopeful that we were going to do what we said we’d do — take back America. I pray we will. It would break my heart to disappoint these fine men and women, our fellow Americans.
Next stop – Grand Rapids, an hour away. Got a phone call from “Loki”, a fellow Blog Talk Radio talk show host, who is already there, seated three rows behind the podium. Blue ball cap. Watch for him. I told him I’m the one wearing a straw hat – the only one who looks like Florida.
The plane crash in Russia that killed Poland’s president and 96 others, including his wife and many high ranking military members, seems very suspicious. Among the folks on the Reagan Blue Bus, we’re all of a mind that this doesn’t pass the smell test.
The rally at Grand Rapids was super. Well attended, and well received. Victoria Jackson joined us and gave one of her funniest performances to date. She’s a big hit with the crowds, and will be a huge asset to us for the rest of the tour. She comes across as a daffy blonde, Gracie Allen style, but trust me when I tell you, this gal’s focused, grounded, and whip smart. And she loves God and country.
Kevin “Lucy I’m Home”, a listener of mine was there too, and it was great to meet them both.
Blog Talk Radio host and constitutional expert Loki (Tim Kerlin) was there with his wife (ouch! forgot her name!)
After the rally CNN’s Shannon Travis joined us on the Reagan Blue Bus and spent the hourlong ride from Grand Rapids to Lansing interviewing us about what it’s like to be on the road. Then the conversation turned to our involvement in the Tea Party. It was a bit surreal to see Jon Voight’s image on the flat panel TV, talking about the Tea Party movement on the Huckabee Show while we were here talking with a CNN reporter about it.
After a long day, we wrapped things up with a Grand Finale on the Michigan State Capitol Steps in Lansing, just a stone’s throw from the offices of Gov. liberal democrat Jennifer Granholm. Michiganders are going to vote her out. And their Attorney General Mike Cox is helping.
More to come tomorrow — Sunday, April 11 – Day 16 of the Marvelous Tea Party Express national tour. We hit Detroit (Clinton Township); Cleveland (Cuyahoga Fairgrounds); and Erie PA (Perry Square). Come join us! And bring a friend, bring several!
Be sure to check with Dave Logan for updates on his site. I don’t always have internet connection, and he will post any changes or updates to our schedule.