Rally seeks to fire up protest against Obama, Congress

Several hundred ticked-off people rallied at the State House on Saturday afternoon, demanding that the state and federal government spend less and listen more.

"We're here to take South Carolina back one politician at a time and remind them that they work for us and not the other way around," said Allen Olson, a spokesman for the Tea Party of Columbia, one of the 11 groups that organized the event. "I'm tired of the good ol' boy system."

Protesters waved a half-dozen Confederate flags and an equal number of "secession" flags. They held a variety of hand-made signs, which spoke to their displeasure with President Barack Obama, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the policies of the Democratic-led Congress.

"Socialized Medicine. No Thanks," one sign read.

"My piggy bank is not your pork barrel," read another.

"Where the hell is our Supreme Court?" a third sign asked. "They're supposed to protect us from Obama and his posse."

The cold - temperatures were in the upper 30s - did not dim the vigor of their protests. It did not go unnoticed, however.

"It's cold out here," said Rocky D, a talk show host for WTMA News Talk radio in Charleston. "It's like looking into the face of Nancy Pelosi."

Elected officials were not allowed to speak at the rally.

But that did not stop them from showing up.

State Rep. Nikki Haley, R-Lexington, a candidate for governor, was there, shaking hands as her campaign volunteers distributed bumper stickers.

"I love this," she said of the rally. "The fact that it's freezing cold and all these people have shown up is great. This is a day that's a day for the people."

Haley backs a bid to make votes in the General Assembly publicly recorded, a hot topic for protesters who argued that state politicians and the Obama administration are spending recklessly and shielding their actions from the public.

"They're printing money," said Roan Garcia-Quintana, executive director of Americans Have Had Enough, another of the rally's organizers. "Our money has no backing. They're printing money like there's no tomorrow."

The answer for many at the rally is for South Carolina to peel itself away from the rest of the country.

"South Carolina seceded from England in 1776. Seceded from the Union in 1860. We can do it again," one sign read.

Gail Davis and her husband, Brian Davis, said the secession talk is a measure of how frustrated people have become with government.

"It appears that nobody's listening to us in Washington," said Brian Davis, who works in information services in Columbia.

"We don't like the way the government is going," said Gail Davis, a retired nurse. "The spending, the stimulus, the bailouts. It seems they are trying to bankrupt the country as quickly as possible. It's time for America to stand up and take notice of what they're doing."