Foes of tea party movement to infiltrate rallies

Foes of tea party movement to infiltrate rallies
Jason Underhill of McAlester, Okla., enters the Quicktrip center carrying a sign and a Revolutionary War flag before the OK For Tea and Tea Party Express rally in Tulsa, Okla. on April 2, 2010. As the tea party movement tries to energize conservatives in Oklahoma, many longtime Republican officeholders have found themselves with an unusual problem - eager opponents challenging them from the right. (AP Photo/Shane Bevel)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Opponents of the fiscally conservative tea party movement say they plan to infiltrate and dismantle the political group by trying to make its members appear to be racist, homophobic and moronic.

Jason Levin, creator of www.crashtheteaparty.org, said Monday the group has 65 leaders in major cities across the country who are trying to recruit members to infiltrate tea party events for April 15 - tax filing day, when tea party groups across the country are planning to gather and protest high taxes.

"Every time we have someone on camera saying that Barack Obama isn't an American citizen, we want someone sitting next to him saying, 'That's right, he's an alien from outer space!'" Levin said.

Tea party members said the backlash comes from ignorance.

"They can't actually debate our message and that's their problem," said Bob MacGuffie, a Connecticut organizer for Right Principles, a tea party group that also has members in New York and New Jersey.

The tea party movement generally unites on the fiscally conservative principles of small government, lower taxes and less spending. Beyond that the ideology of the people involved tends to vary dramatically.

Levin says they want to exaggerate the group's least appealing qualities, further distance the tea party from mainstream America and damage the public's opinion of them.

"Do I think every member of the tea party is a homophobe, racist or a moron? No, absolutely not," Levin said. "Do I think most of them are homophobes, racists or morons? Absolutely."

The site manifesto says they want to dismantle the Tea Party by nonviolent means. "We have already sat quietly in their meetings, and observed their rallies," the site said.

Another tea party organizer said the attempt to destroy the movement was evidence its message is resonating.

"We've been ignored, we've been ridiculed. Well, now they're coming after us," said Judy Pepenella, a co-coordinator for the New York State Tea Party. "Gandhi's quote is one we understand: 'First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.'"

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.