Unveiling his newly acquired campaign motorhome Saturday afternoon to nearly four dozen supporters at a Huntley Tea Party rally, Congressman Joe Walsh also welcomed eight protesters vowing to drum Walsh and other Tea Party members out of office in the next election.
"We're going to have some anti-Tea Party folks. We've got to welcome them. This is fun," Walsh told his supporters, his smile growing broader and his voice getting louder and higher as he noted he was the "No. 1 target" of President Obama and the Democrats.
"It's about Joe Walsh and his voting record," said Kyran McCann, a 24-year-old Schaumburg woman who is a district director for the CREDO SuperPAC, a new political action committee raising money to defeat Tea Party candidates in the November election. "We're the take down Joe Walsh part."
Proponents and opponents clutching competing signs reading "God, Gold and Guns" and "Take Down Joe Walsh" jockeyed for roadside positions along Ill. Route 47 across from a senior citizen housing community in Huntley as Walsh played to the crowd on a grassy median. Both sides covered familiar political ground as Walsh ripped Obama and talked about the need to "save our country," and his opponents blasted Walsh for voting against funding for Planned Parenthood and being "a leader in the war on women."
But the massive motorhome is new to the Walsh campaign. Purchased in Madison, Wis., for $7,500, the 1984 Fleetwood Pace Arrow boasts Walsh's "It's time. Are you ready?" campaign slogan on the side and is festooned with dozens of political beliefs above the rear bumper. The statements range from comments about the debt, spending and wars to Walsh's proclamation that "we are better than Washington, D.C., thinks we are." Walsh is urging supporters to sign their names on the motorhome.
"We've been at it for three years, and we really don't like the direction our country is going. It's becoming socialist," said Joy Swoboda, 71, treasurer of the Huntley Tea Party.
"I think they are fighting against their own best interests," countered anti-Walsh protester Lynda DiGregor, 61, of Crystal Lake. "We are a social country whether we like it or not, and we need to take care of each other."
Holding a "Don't Tread on Me" flag in her right hand and a cigarette in her left, Walsh-supporter Julie Butters of Carpentersville said she thinks our current state and federal leaders are the reason she has been unemployed for 19 months. The unemployment benefits Butters receives are less than she used to make in her job, forcing her to take $600 out of savings each month, she said. The 52-year-old Tea Party member said another assistance program provides her with free insulin needed to treat her diabetes. But she said she'd rather have a job than the help.
"I would like to see a country where we don't have to need that," Butters said.
In one of the most-watched and hotly contested races in the nation, Walsh of McHenry, the incumbent Republican Congressman, is running against Democrat Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates in a newly redrawn 8th Congressional District.