by William Moultrie
Columbia – The South Carolina Tea Party’s love affair with Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley has hit some rough water as the activists turned out in force Wednesday protesting her latest proposal to reinstate a tax on groceries.
“This goes to the very origins of our movement,” said Niles Frost, a Tea Party organizer from Abbeville. “She literally wants to tax our tea. That sounds like something Hitler would do, and we’re not going to stand for it. We supported her and she betrayed us. As far as I’m concerned she can go back to wherever she’s from and take Obama with her.”
Haley has received criticism from the left and the right this week for her new economic proposals that include eliminating corporate income taxes and bringing back a 6% tax on groceries.
“I was a big Nikki fan,” said Peggy Stewart, a Tea Party organizer from Greer. “I was ready to hear about all the other taxes she was going to get rid of, then ‘bam’ she wants to raise tax on groceries. I was watching the news with my five-year-old daughter Janie and she asked me: ‘Mommy, why does Miss Haley want us to give more of our money to the tax man?’ I didn’t know what to tell her.”
Stewart joined with hundreds of other Tea Partiers outside the Publix supermarket on Gervais Street in Columbia waving banners and calling on Haley to renounce any and all taxes.
Despite their consistent opposition to politicians who raise taxes, some experts were surprised by the Tea Party’s protest of Haley.
“Frankly, I’m stunned,” said Furman political science professor Ben Tillman. “It is very consistent with what they’ve done and said in the past over tax issues, but I, along with a lot of my colleagues, assumed that the Tea Partiers would generally support Republican candidates regardless of their stated positions. This gives me a whole new respect for their movement and their ability to stick to their guns and remain independent of the Republican party.”
The South Carolina chapters of the national Tea Party aren’t the only ones abandoning Haley. In an emergency meeting on Wednesday in Washington, DC, the National Association of Southern Tea-bagging Youth (NASTY) retracted their endorsement of Haley.
“We simply can’t support her anymore,” said Kim Westin, spokesperson for NASTY. “We’re certainly not going to endorse her opponent in the race, but there’s no way we can lend our good name to Nikki Haley’s campaign. We’ve got some calls in to André Bauer about him getting back into the race, but short of that, we’ll likely be sitting this one out.”