A day after WANE-TV became the first local station in the …
Tea Party activists Ric Runestad and Emery McClendon talk with NewsChannel 15's Mark Mellinger
Updated: Thursday, 01 Mar 2012, 2:57 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 28 Feb 2012, 6:00 PM EST
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - On Wednesday, NewsChannel 15 will bring you a first-of-its-kind local TV broadcast titled Focus 15: Occupy vs. Tea Party.
It will be a chance for local leaders affiliated with the two national movements to square off in a face-to-face forum. Local Tea Party leaders are eagerly anticipating the opportunity.
The Fort Wayne Tea Party movement started with an Allen County Courthouse square rally in the spring of 2009 featuring former U.N. ambassador Alan Keyes. The organizer of that rally was a local FedEx driver, Emery McClendon.
"The biggest problem I think that we have is people are not aware anymore of what the government's role is," McClendon told NewsChannel 15 this month.
According to McClendon and fellow Tea Party leader Ric Runestad, who runs his own insurance business, our country's founders intended for the national government to be limited in scope, size, and power. The problem, they said, is that both major parties have abandoned that vision, opting instead to grow government to gluttonous levels and borrow money at a breakneck pace.
"There is a difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. The Democrats want to drive into a brick wall at 100 miles an hour. The Republicans want to do it at only 80,"said Runestad.
Nationally and locally, the Tea Party movement encompasses several groups with different leaders. But Runestad said one principle unites them all: a desire to see the government follow the limits set for it by the U.S. Constitution.
"If we followed the Constitution, almost all the problems, almost all of the nightmares that we have right now... all of those would cease," said Runestad.
For example, Runestad said President Bush led the country into the costly Iraq War without getting the war declaration from Congress outlined in the Constitution. It should be noted, however, that Congress did authorize the use of force in that situation.
Both McClendon and Runestad are looking forward to Wednesday's special broadcast, expecting it to clarify sharply where they differ from their adversaries in the Occupy movement.
"What I would like to see come out of it is for people to be able to sit down and really contrast the differences, the similarities," said McClendon.
"I believe that in a contest of ideas, our ideas have greater weight," said Runestad.
If it seems like the Tea Party movement is in decline, local leaders said that's not the case. They said they've just moved on from the days of holding big rallies to the harder, behind-the-scenes work of really educating their followers about American government and making an impact in politics.
NewsChannel 15 profiled the local Occupy movement on Monday.
Focus 15: Occupy vs. Tea Party airs live from the IPFW Walb Student Union ballroom Wednesday at 7 p.m. on NewsChannel 15.
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