While organizers were setting up for the Aiken County Tea Party rally in The Alley on Saturday morning, Chairman Dr. Mike Vasovski noticed a pedestrian watching them while shaking his head in a disapproving manner.

Vasovski noted his observation during the rally, stating there's nothing “sinister” about the Tea Party, and they're the simply the voice of the Conservative people. Those voices echoed throughout The Alley as several political candidates, and others spoke about how they believe the country is heading in the wrong direction, as well as what they think needs to be done to resolve the nation's problems.

Frustration of what was described as out-of-control spending by both the state and federal government, the need to defend Constitutional rights and a call for smaller government were common themes that speakers homed in on during the rally.

Resident Dennis Tomasko offered a “state of the union in a historical sense.” He started his speech with a short history of the United States from its beginnings, a time in which he said there was courage and leadership. He then spoke of the present day, citing the ongoing partial government shutdown. He said the citizens of the United States were being “grounded,” as they couldn't visit the Statue of Liberty and other national treasures.

Tomasko asked why this was happening and answered his own question by saying that the citizens elected these individuals to Congress to represent the people, but the politicians are only representing a party or personal interest.

Several candidates or someone representing them spoke at the event, including Kathleen Crosby, a supporter and campaign volunteer for Nancy Mace, who is looking to replace U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham. Crosby said that the government has grown to be too large as well as too intrusive. She said Mace believes in term limits and has stated that in order to change Washington, D.C., there needs to be a change in who's sent to the U.S. Capitol.

“I believe in the American people and not big government,” Crosby said.

State Sen. Lee Bright, who is also looking to unseat Graham, said he believes that a small government means a free people. He said he's a staunch Conservative who is a supporter of the Fair Tax and wants to “abolish the IRS.”

Liberty candidate Eddie McCain, who is running for South Carolina's 2nd Congressional District that's currently under U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., put a lot of emphasis on the idea of preserving, protecting and defending the U.S. Constitution, which he said isn't being done by today's Congress.

Kevin Carter, who recently announced his candidacy for the S.C. House District 86 seat currently occupied by S.C. Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, said so many politicians are more concerned about their own interests than taking care of the people who elected them to serve. He said life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are to be defended, not taken away from the American people.

“They should be protected by the government, not hindered by the government,” Carter said, later adding. “Today, your liberty, your freedom is under attack.”

Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the publication since May 2010.