The Meaning of the Tea Party Express

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 14, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Sixteen days, coast to coast, the "tea party express" rumbled down the highway through the country. Final stop, Washington D.C., for Saturday's huge tea party. FOX's Griff Jenkins was along for the ride and joins us live.

So you chased this bus all across the country!

GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS: I did! You know, Greta, it's fascinating. So much has been made about what happened this weekend, which was the culmination of the 16 days, 30-plus cities, 15 states. There were three reporters on board, myself, that followed them, and two reporters who were actually on the bust the whole time, Jim Spellman from CNN and Dave Barstow from The New York Times. We haven't (ph) seen a New York Times piece, but Jim Spellman's been reporting on it, too.

But before I talk about the lessons learned -- Saturday was the big event, and it was, of course, promoted most by Glenn Beck, who you just talked to. But here's what was the culmination event. This is how it went down on Saturday. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're sneaking up on us a little bit at a time, you know, a little bit with the health care, you know, a little bit taking over the banks, insurance companies, auto companies, and so on, a little here and a little there, we're going to lose all our freedoms!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm Democrat. I was an Obama delegate. I'm no longer an Obama supporter because he's not doing the will of the people. He's trying to make us modern-day slaves, in my opinion. And I don't want to go there. (INAUDIBLE) that's what I'm going to do, but we don't have (INAUDIBLE) we going to take back our country!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is amazing. This is America -- this is what America is, what these people -- the message these people have brought here. It's phenomenal. And I want to be a part of it. I want to tell Congress what they need to do help bring this country back to the republic that our forefathers gave us and stop this nonsense they've started.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am an ordinary American that has decided enough is enough and that we need to fight for Constitution. We are the ones that put our elected officials into office, and we're the ones that can take them out.


JENKINS: So is it a culmination or is it just the beginning, Greta? I mean, that's what the majority of people there said, this is the beginning of something big. And you know, I think it was a great honor to go do this for FOX and to cover it because it seems to be a political movement. But a lot is being said about what drives it and who is turning out. And I think you had a little bit of everybody.

VAN SUSTEREN: What I'm a little bit curious about -- curious about a few things. Number one, in my prior life as a lawyer, I used to represent protesters, which was always interesting, here in Washington. Any -- I loved it when people were exercising their freedom of speech. Any protesters arrested (INAUDIBLE) mess with the law at all?

JENKINS: Well, that's fascinating. You know, there was a lot was made at the numbers that turned out, and the park police -- authorities don't give estimates of crowds. But I did talk to the park police today and they said, Here's a number I'll give you, zero arrests on Saturday. Now, we saw protesters that supported the president and supported the health care initiative, which was a big catalyst. So it was a big part of this.


JENKINS: Take away health care, and you would have had -- and it was...

VAN SUSTEREN: But let me just say about the arrests, is that the police here in Washington, D.C., are so experienced and they've got -- they're pretty flexible about protesters. I mean, if you're going to protest anyplace, Washington's not a bad place because you got the most experienced police officers and they've seen a lot of this.

JENKINS: Well, that's true, and I -- I'm the first to tip my hat to those guys. And I covered a lot of the anti-war protests for FOX. But you know, for an "angry mob," there were no angry folks getting arrested (INAUDIBLE)

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, find out where people are from? Can you give me a list of towns? I mean, how far did people come for this?

JENKINS: People came from across the country. (INAUDIBLE) one guy that came from Australia, apparently sitting at...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that's a little bit beyond across the country!


VAN SUSTEREN: What was he doing there?

JENKINS: Well, he was a recent transplant to Indiana and said he just got caught up in the whole thing. But the most fascinating part and the most interesting thing of where this thing goes -- and that's the question, where does it go -- we found independents, I'm reporting for you, independents who said, I voted for President Obama or I've always been an independent, and now I'm upset. If that continues, if that really is a big part of this, then the White House is going to have to pay attention, as will Congress, despite David Axelrod saying, Oh, it's not indicative of (INAUDIBLE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that -- that'll just get people fired up if he dismisses them. Griff, thank you.

JENKINS: Thanks, Greta.

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