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All Eyes on Tennessee for the First National Tea Party Convention

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 4, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: All eyes are on Nashville, home of the tea party convention not without critics and problems. $549 price tag, politicians dropping out. Is it a grass roots event or fundraiser? Where is the money going? Judson Phillips joins us live. Why did you organize this? What is your goal?

JUDSON PHILLIPS, TEA PARTY ORGANIZER: Well, good evening, Greta. We have several goals out of this. First of all, we wanted the opportunity for activists from across the country to get together, to be able to network, get to know each other, exchange ideas. We wanted activists also to learn some techniques that would work because everybody in the tea party is all new at this, and we're just learning every time we do this. And so some things work, some things don't. So we wanted to teach people some things that work, some things that didn't work.

And finally, we just wanted a good event that would fire the activists up, so when they go back to their communities they're pumped up again because we've been doing this for about a year now, and it's been kind of a long year.

VAN SUSTEREN: How high-tech...

PHILLIPS: So those are kind of the main goals.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. How high-tech is it? I mean, I know there's controversy over Governor Sarah Palin, the keynote speaker, but you could easily -- you know, you've got a lot of attendees there to hear her speak who are paying a substantial amount of money, but you could also put her up on Skype and let others across the Internet or some other form to see her. How high-tech are you? And you know, why aren't you going across the Internet?

PHILLIPS: Well, we are high-tech and we are going to have this out on the Internet. But the simply truth of the matter is there is nothing like getting people together. You cannot recreate that energy over the Internet. You cannot recreate that camaraderie. You just can't meet people the same way over the Internet that you do in person. And that's one of the big goals out of this event is so that some of these people, like activists from California, who don't know activists from Tennessee or New Hampshire, they can all get together, get to know each other, exchange e-mail addresses so they can stay in contact once this event is long gone in the past.

Watch Greta's interview

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, explain the controversy over the -- it's been out there, I don't know if it's true or not, but that Governor Palin's getting paid $100,000 for her speech, and there's some objection within the tea party movement to the $100,000. She's now saying that it's going to go back to the movement. I guess one way would be to simply to be -- to refuse the payment. But how is it going back to the tea party movement, do you know?

PHILLIPS: I can't really answer anything related to that. I just really don't know.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it because you don't know or because you won't answer it?

PHILLIPS: Well, I cannot speak for Governor Palin. I don't know what she's going to do. When you get a speaker in of the caliber of Governor Palin, you have an agreement. It's not simply done on a handshake. Part of that agreement includes a confidentiality clause. I cannot speak about it. I won't speak about it. And Governor Palin has spoken about it, and I defer all those questions to her.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it true some members of the national tea party movement have withdrawn or they're not at the convention, decided not to go because of that? Is it that much of a controversy within the tea party movement?

PHILLIPS: No. It's -- there -- there's only one sponsor that dropped out, and he had his own odd set of issues. And it's not been that big of an issue. The people who've been here at this convention -- and we're at capacity at 600 -- they are excited, they are pumped up, and they are here because they want to move our agenda forward and they want to learn how to do that better. And that's the predominant thought. Everybody's just here excited and pumped up and ready to learn and then ready to take it back to their communities.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why Nashville? Any particular reason?

PHILLIPS: It's home.

VAN SUSTEREN: Your home?

PHILLIPS: You know, one of the things about -- yes, yes. I live just outside of Nashville. But you know, it's one of the things about the tea party movement. When we started doing the rallies, none of us had ever organized a rally before. When we launched our Teapartynation Web site, we'd never done that before, but we went ahead and did it. So with the convention, we went ahead and did that, too. We didn't know what we were doing. But we did it here in Nashville because, among other things, it gave us a little bit of a comfort factor, being that close to home.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, one quick...

PHILLIPS: And we thought it was just -- Nashville's just a great place.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, another quick question, then I got to go. What's your -- what's your occupation? What do you when you're not involved in the tea party movement? Because this is a rather diverse group.

PHILLIPS: My day job is I'm a small-town lawyer.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Thank you very much. And good luck. We'll be following your convention. Thank you, sir.

PHILLIPS: Hey, Greta, thank you.

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