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Tea Party rally garners a smaller-than-expected crowd

Chicago TeParty TeParty Patriots host fifth annual Tax Day TeParty Rally with speakers including former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh microphone.

Chicago Tea Party and Tea Party Patriots host the fifth annual Tax Day Tea Party Rally, with speakers including former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, at the microphone. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 15, 2013 7:59PM

A Chicago Tea Party Tax Day rally garnered a smaller-than-expected turnout Monday despite supporters who say making their voices heard to reduce taxes and government spending is more important than ever.

“We should have 5,000 people in this space,” former U.S. Representative and Tea Party leader Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) told the few hundred people gathered in Daley Plaza Monday afternoon. “What kind of a country are we prepared to hand off to our kids and our grandkids?...We live in a country where most Americans don’t get to keep half of what they make and earn.”

Last year’s election and tax changes that will come with “ObamaCare” give special urgency to the Tea Party’s call for a limited government that tightens its budget and reduces taxes, Walsh said.

“There’s a sense of urgency this year that I feel when I talk to people in this movement,” Walsh told the Sun-Times before the rally, despite the event’s lackluster attendance. “I think the election results kind of knocked everybody on our side off our feet and everybody was laying on their back for a month or two. But then since Washington’s been back in gear, people are getting up.”

Mike Hahne, a DuPage Tea Party member, has been to all five Tax Day rallies in Chicago. Although he’s seen the number of supporters at the event dwindling, he said the fight continues.

“The ones that are left are committed, and we try and do everything we can to grow it,” Hahne, 70, said. “It’s hard to keep enthusiasm up on everything.”

This is the Chicago Tea Party’s fifth annual Tax Day rally at the Plaza, just blocks from the Chicago Board of Trade building where, in 2009, CNBC on-air editor Rick Santelli blasted President Barack Obama’s mortgage relief program and called for a new American tea party.

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