[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/04/tea.party.dc.jpg caption="A Tea Party protest in Washington, DC."]
Program note: Watch Randi Kaye’s live report from the Tea Party Convention in Nashville, tonight at 10pm ET on AC360°.
Randi Kaye | BIO
I hadn’t been to Little Rock Arkansas in 16 years.
I had worked there as a reporter, my very first reporting job, and honestly, I wasn’t sure I’d ever be back.
Sure enough, I traveled to Little Rock this week to interview a man named Bob Porto. You’ll meet him tonight on AC360.
He was a home builder but the recession dried up all his business and when the bank came to collect a $300,000 loan on Porto’s house, he didn’t have the money. He also didn’t have anywhere to turn. That was September 2008 and that’s when Bob Port co-founded the Pulaski County Tea Party, which includes Little Rock and is the biggest Tea Party in the state.
Porto never cared much for politics but these days he’s busy giving speeches and going on the radio to push the Tea Party values.
Like most tea partiers, Porto isn’t happy with the direction he says President Obama is taking this country.
Tea Partiers oppose big government and big spending by government. They also oppose higher taxes and stand for freedom and fiscal responsibility. They do not want to see an increase in the national debt and they view health care reform as if it’s a health care takeover. More spending that they say “we the people" don’t need and won’t benefit from.
Porto says the Tea Party has given him a voice. Before, he says, he wasn’t being heard. He couldn’t get the attention of the government after his business fell apart and the bank called.
He told this story to me many times this week and each time I could see the emotion in his eyes. This was a guy that was a successful businessman. At one point he even owned two airplanes. And now, he is just trying to get by. He hasn’t had a paycheck in more than a year.
He thinks the Federal government is trampling on his freedom. So many rules and regulations And he’s still waiting for the TARP funds to be funneled to the everyday people like himself on Main Street. “Wasn’t that the point,?” he asked me.
Porto said “there are those too big too fail but me, I’m too small to save.”
He talks a lot about “freedom” and “America” and “We the people.”
The patriotism is practically spilling out of him.
That passion comes from the fact that as a teenager, Porto dropped out of high school and ran away from home. He was told he’d never amount to anything, but ended up creating a successful business for himself until the recession hit. Knowing the opportunities he had, he wants others to have the same and he believes unless something changes, there won’t be an America left for future generations. He has two daughters and he wants to make sure he does his part to help guarantee their future.
Be sure to catch Bob Porto’s story tonight on Anderson Cooper 360°. Also, I’ll be at the Tea Party Convention in Nashville so you’ll get to see what’s going on there too!
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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