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PHOENIX — Tea party activists did not seem impressed as Rep. Joe Barton tried to brag about the $60 billion in budget cuts in the House-passed continuing resolution to fund the government.
They interrupted the Texas Republican as he touted “the largest spending cuts in history” as a “good start in the right direction.” Members of the Tea Party Patriots gathered at the first-ever policy summit here shouted back, “More, more.”
“I hear it,” Barton said, trying to return to his speech focused on Republican policy proposals to change entitlement programs and federal regulation. “You’re not going to get to the finish line the first time you set out.”
More than 1,000 people gathered at the Phoenix Convention Center on Friday evening for the opening session of the summit. Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) began the ceremony with an invocation and businessman Herman Cain, who is expected to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, received a standing ovation.
But Barton didn’t enjoy the same reception. He received some criticism for touting his Congressional experience and after thanking the movement for helping Republicans win back the House in last fall’s midterm elections.
“I’ve been in Congress 26 years,” Barton said at the beginning of his speech. “We lost the majority the last four years. And then you folks came along, and God bless you, I’m back in the majority. Thank you, a lot.”
Tea party activists present said they are sensitive to Republicans who assume their movement will blindly back the party.
“That was the wrong thing to say to this crowd,” Ken Campbell, a California-based activist, told Roll Call. “People didn’t believe him. Where has he been all these years?”
Follow @ambreenali on Twitter for live coverage from Phoenix.