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Tea party rally focuses anger on Obama policies, Illinois politics
By Russell Lissau | Daily Herald Staff

With tea bags hanging from her ears, Libertyville-area resident Tina McCarthy listens to a speaker at Monday's tea party rally in Cook Park.


Russell Lissau | Daily Herald

Sister Rose Bernadette of the Sacred Heart Convent held patriotic flags at Monday's tea party rally in Libertyville. To her left is Sister John Marie.


Russell Lissau | Daily Herald

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Published: 7/5/2010 4:28 PM

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Wearing and waving plenty of red, white and blue, about 500 people packed into Libertyville's Cook Park for Lake County's first tea party rally on Monday.

They were, by and large, an angry bunch. Angry about high taxes, angry about Illinois' political shenanigans, angry about President Barack Obama and his policies.

And the speakers who addressed the crowd from in front of the historic Cook House played to that outrage, building on the "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" attitude the movement has cultivated.

"Stay angry and stay fired up," Republican 8th District congressional candidate Joe Walsh told the crowd during his brief remarks at the start of the event.

Republican Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran worked the crowd, too, lambasting what he called a "growing secularism and moral relativism" in America. He railed against Hollywood movies, abortion, unwed parents and even the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's alcoholism - and the crowd ate it up.

The only time Curran faltered was when he criticized conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, which got some in the crowd grumbling.

Other speakers included Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady, who attended a similar event in Palatine on Saturday, and Peter Karlovics, a Gurnee activist and an organizer with the Lake County tea party group.

The size of the gathering surprised Mettawa trustee and Republican political blogger Larry Falbe.

"It shows that people are extremely concerned with the direction the country is heading," Falbe said. "If the Democrats think that the tea party is a bunch of crazy lunatics, they do so at their own peril."

It wasn't hard to find political extremists in the crowd, however. From her seat at a picnic table near the speakers, Streamwood resident Mary Ann McKiernan attacked Obama's citizenship and denied he is the nation's president.

"We don't have a president, we have a usurper," said McKiernan, who identified herself as a volunteer with the Brady campaign.