UPDATED to include video link: tea party video
BISMARCK â€” With just weeks to go until Election Day, North Dakota tea party supporters rallied Saturday at the state Capitol to encourage residents to take back the country and â€œvote the bums out.â€
Between 300 and 400 people attended the event to show their support for fiscal restraint, individual responsibility, sticking to the wording of the Constitution and limited government.
The tea party movement is about average citizens who have had enough of government encroachment in their lives, said Gary Emineth, a speaker at the event and former North Dakota Republican Party chairman.
Grand Forks City Councilman Terry Bjerke said money is being wasted at all levels of government.
â€œItâ€™s time to take back your money and take back your property,â€ he said.
Bjerke said the U.S. Capitol should move to Grand Forks.
â€œ(They) will have never lived in a place thatâ€™s that cold, and theyâ€™ll have to keep their hands in their own pockets,â€ he said.
Robert Harms, president of Citizens for Responsible Government, spoke out against the national debt, stimulus spending, bailouts, entitlement programs and the new health care law.
Tea party supporters also discussed the increased spending by North Dakota state government in recent years and the stateâ€™s large surplus.
â€œThe state of North Dakota does not have a surplus. It has an overtaxation problem,â€ Bjerke said
Discussing entitlement programs, Bjerke said itâ€™s unconstitutional to take money from person A to give to person B.
â€œWhat part of this does our congressman Earl Pelosi not understand?â€ he said, combining the names of Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Ross Ueckert of Beach, N.D., told supporters the tea party is about standing together.
â€œThe Constitution tells us what our government is supposed to do and what our government is allowed to do by you the people. Not me, but us,â€ he said. â€œLetâ€™s stand together for what we believe in and take this dang country back and put it on the path that it needs to go.â€
Kathy Oâ€™Brien of Bismarck said she attended the event because she wants to see major changes in how the country is run.
â€œCut spending, cut spending, cut spending,â€ she said. â€œItâ€™s just supporting the movement, people wanting to reduce the size of government. Itâ€™s getting out of control.â€
Pinky LaFave of Mandan said sheâ€™s worried about the national debt and the future of her children and grandchildren.
â€œI want to get our country back to what it was,â€ she said. â€œLeave it to the states and the people.â€
Although North Dakota doesnâ€™t have tea party candidates for national office on the November ballot, Emineth said the goal is for tea party activities to continue at all levels.
â€œItâ€™s really about the average citizen getting off the couch, getting away from behind their counter, getting off their tractor and saying, you know what? Iâ€™m going to be involved in this politics and being a part of the process of solving problems,â€ he said.
North Dakota Democrats and Republicans have also launched their own rallies across the state this month.