BOSTON -- The cross-country Tea Party Express tour built toward a climax Wednesday with a rally steeped in anti-tax symbolism and an exhortation from one of the few politicians it has embraced, Sarah Palin.
The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee said in Boston that President Barack Obama must be rebuffed in this fall's midterm elections after overreaching with his first-year stimulus law and with health care, student loan and financial regulatory overhauls.
"Is this what their 'change' is all about?" Palin asked a sun-splashed crowd of roughly 5,000 gathered just a mile from the site of the original Tea Party from which the movement got its name. "I want to tell them, nah, we'll keep clinging to our Constitution and our guns and religion - and you can keep the change."
Later she told the crod, "I'm not calling anyone un-American, but the unintended consequences of these actions -- the results -- are un-American."
HuffPost's Ben Craw condensed her roughly 20-minute speech into a 3-minute highlight reel. WATCH:
Tea partiers planned to meet for a final rally in Washington on Thursday, coinciding with the federal tax-filing deadline. Local events are also planned in Oklahoma, Ohio and other locations.
Palin put her own spin on Tax Day, saying, "We need to cut taxes so that our families can keep more of what they earn and produce, and our mom-and-pops then, our small businesses, can reinvest according to our own priorities, and hire more people and let the private sector grow and thrive and prosper."
Despite Palin's rhetoric, middle-income Americans are "now paying federal taxes at or near historically low levels," according to new data.
She also played to the crowd by trotting out a trademark line as she lobbied for more domestic energy production.
"Yeah, let's drill baby drill, not stall baby stall - you betcha," Palin said.
After her speech, an event organizer yelled out, "You hear that, my lefty friends? See that? Conservative women: they're smarter than you and they're hotter than you!"
The gathering intended to hark back to 1773, when American colonists upset about British taxation without government representation threw British tea into the harbor in protest.
The modern tea party movement is diverse, with both Republican and Democratic followers, as well as some outliers who question the legitimacy of Obama's presidency. Some doubt he was born in the United States, as his birth certificate shows.
Several speakers protested suggestions of racist undertones to the movement, which sprouted as the nation elected its first black president. Nonetheless, virtually the entire speaking program and audience were white.
An exception was the singer of the Tea Party anthem, Lloyd Marcus, who made a point of describing himself not as African-American, but American.
One person in the crowd, John Arathuzik, 69, of Topsfield, said he had never been especially politically active until he saw the direction of the Obama administration.
"I feel like I can do one of two things: I can certainly vote in November, which I'll do, and I can provide support for the peaceful protest about the direction this country is taking," said Arathuzik, a veteran who clutched a copy of the Constitution distributed by a vendor.
Michael Brantmuller, a 40-year-old unemployed carpenter from Salem, N.H., said he appreciated Palin's "red-white-and-blue" speech but added: "I don't know whether she's the right spokesperson, because she's such a polarizing figure and people may judge her before they listen to her."
A festive mood filled the air. A band played patriotic music, and hawkers sold yellow Gadsden flags emblazoned with the words "Don't Tread on Me" and the image of a rattlesnake.
Small groups of counterprotesters urged civility, as well as respect for gay and minority rights. They noted some members of Congress alleged racism after voting for Obama's health care law.
"Public discourse is great - there's room for the tea party - but there's no room for racism or homophobia or any other negative discourse," said Susan Leslie, a member of the group, Standing on the Side of Love.
Notably absent was Sen. Scott Brown, the Massachusetts Republican who in January won the seat held for half a century by liberal icon Edward M. Kennedy.
He cited congressional business, which included hearings about the Iranian nuclear program.
"That's a heck of a lot more important than him being here right now," conservative talk show host Mark Williams told the crowd.
While the movement claimed partial credit for his victory, Brown has kept his distance. If he gets too close, he risks being aligned with the tea party's more radical followers.
He is up for re-election in 2012, and most of the state political establishment remains Democratic.