Tea party rallies sweep Texas
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Tea Party rallies took place all over Texas and the nation Thursday.
The grassroots organization calls for less federal spending and limited government.
One of the largest Tea Party rallies took place in Washington, D.C., where former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin delivered a speech.
Among those gathered on the south steps of the Texas Capitol building were Republican State Reps. Leo Berman, of Tyler, and Wayne Christian, of Center.
Some in the crowd were new to the Tea Party, saying it's something they can get behind.
"I just can't stand by and watch what's happening to the country, the direction we're going with some of the legislation," attendee Kay Kirchner said. "So, I feel I had to get my voice heard and came out today to do just that."
Before anyone addressed the crowd, a man who identified himself as a former Baptist minister gave a fiery prayer that said the nation is under siege "by enemies abroad and domestic."
One man in the crowd carried an AK-47, which he said was unloaded and perfectly legal. A state trooper stopped the man, examined the weapon and let him continue walking.
Later Thursday afternoon, former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich addressed about 300 conservative Tea Party activists at an Austin hotel. The crowd chanted "Newt" when a moderator asked if he planned to run for president in 2012. Gingrich dodged the question, but later said he didn't know if he would run for the party nomination.
Gingrich also signed a document called the "Contract For America," a 10-part pledge that some activists are asking elected officials to sign.
Gingrich is well-known for his support of the "Contract With America," which helped Republicans recapture Congress in 1994.
Debra Medina also spoke at a rally held by the Texans for Accountable Government.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.