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Tea Party hosts political rally on the square
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Disillusioned residents who believe the federal government is moving toward socialism and recklessly abandoning any sense of fiscal responsibility came to the square Saturday to vent frustration and search for solutions.

Around 150 people attended Saturday’ Newton County Tea Party rally to hear speeches about conservative principles from fellow residents and political candidates.

"Fiscal responsibility is not a dirty word, people. It means you got to take care of your own house. It’s always been my opinion if the government would look after its house like an individual has to look after his, we’d be in better shape. They have to pay their bills," Co-organizer Luke Knight said to applause. "The Tea Party is about enforcing the laws on an even handed basis. Do not favor one group over another. And that’s what our government has been doing for years and years and years. They’ve gotten so far away from us there had to come to be a tea party."

Knight said the Tea Party is the vocal response of people who used to be the "silent majority," using a term made popular by former President Richard Nixon. He said he supports smaller, more efficient government.

"We don’t need 2,000 pages to solve health care. We don’t need 2,000 pages for cap and trade. We need capitalism. Capitalism will solve most of our problems. It always has; it always will," Knight said.

Fellow co-organizer Richard Gregory took a different tack with his speech, focusing on the need for the U.S. to return to Christian principles. He talked about the power or prayers and how previous American heroes like George Washington and General George S. Patton reportedly prayed before their major battles.

"Compare that to the recent years, with God kicked out of public schools. In many schools, it’s against the law because of the Department of Education says were not supposed to pray… what do they do when they have a heavy test coming up? They gotta’ pray," Gregory lamented. "Then we have abortion on demand. Euthanasia is getting legalized. Pornography is everywhere."

Several politicians attended the event, including Jody Hice and Rob Woodall, winners of the July 20 primary, who will face off in the Aug. 10 runoff to replace John Linder as District 7 U.S. Representative.

"I’m all about the Tea Party," Hice said before his speech. "We have to take the country back. We’re watching the current administration advance socialistic principles … They’re destroying capitalistic principles and trashing the constitution."

Woodall said he personally knew the Knight family, and was a supporter of the Tea Party movement because it gets people to come out and become involved. In addition, Mary Alice Carter, who lost in the primary for her Georgia House District 125 seat, and Sen. John Douglas, who is running for Public Service Commission, also participated.

One attendee was Don Ashworth, chairman of the Walton County Tea Party. Ashworth said Walton County actually has two Tea Party groups, and he’s looking forward to collaborating in the future.

He said he formed the official group, because he had previously been to an unorganized local Tea Party, and wanted to give the movement focus. He said as a former military veteran, he believes the Tea Party should be used to rebuild patriotism in the country.

Knight originally became involved in the Tea Party because he wanted Newton County to avoid electing their own Alvin Greene, the unknown air force veteran who won the South Carolina Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate, despite the face he didn’t run a campaign and is facing criminal charges for allegedly having shown pornography to a female college student.

He hopes to continue educating residents about this year’s candidates to help voters make truly informed decisions.

In related election news, a local conservative advocate group, Patriots Table, is hosting a State Senate 17 Republican runoff forum from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday at the Little Red School House, next to the Covington Y on Newton Drive. Social Circle educator Todd Hilton and Rick Jeffares, owner of J&T Environmental Services, qualified for the Aug. 10 runoff and have been invited to participate.

Patriots Table Charter Member Ralph Brian said the event will be moderated by local resident Fred Wheeler, and audience members will be able to submit questions via note cards handed out at the forum. For more information, visit