(CNSNews.com) -- Tea Party leaders raised their main concern about “a runaway federal government” during a grassroots “round-table” conference call with over 100 participants on Tuesday evening, two days before the first Republican presidential debate.
The conservative leaders said they particularly want the candidates running for president in 2016 to address federal overreach, limiting the size of the federal government, restoring a free market economy, and eliminating the national debt.
In addition to various local and national conservative grassroots leaders, members of the media - including journalists from the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times - were present on the conference call.
“Everything we say here is on the record tonight, that’s one of the reasons we’re doing it. One is to allow me to get a better impression of exactly what you guys are thinking. And two, it’s to let you guys get your voices out there,” said Meckler.
The Tea Party leaders were asked a series of questions by the moderator in order to ascertain the genuine concerns of the grassroots groups they represent.
Participants were asked what issues they felt were not being properly represented by the candidates. They responded with their concerns about the size, scope and jurisdiction of the federal government.
“I look at the biggest problem, not surprisingly to you guys, that what we have in the country is essentially a runaway federal government and the loss of separation of powers,” said Mike Faulkenberry, the North Carolina state director of the Convention of the States Project.
“What do you do to rein-in the Supreme Court and restore checks and balances among the branches of the federal government and to restore federal rules into our government?” asked Eugene Cloud of Orlando, Florida.
Participants were also asked: If they were the moderator of a presidential debate, what would be the most important question their group would want them to ask the candidates?
“How are you going to rein-in on all the unelected bureaucrats that are ruining this country and have grabbed too much power?” Brad Wilson, a leader of the North Shore Tea Party in Chicago Illinois, said he would ask the candidates.
Others spoke about their concerns that federal overreach was destroying the nation’s free market economy.
“Ok, so you’re now focused on economic issues as opposed to regulatory issues, although there may be crossover,” Meckler said.
“They’re very connected,” replied Mark Gotz, leader of the 9/12 Tea Party of Fort St. Lucie, Florida. “I mean the regulatory overreach and compliance issues are where they’re killing our businesses. So consequently if they had a plan to restore the free market economy, that would begin to hopefully push back on government.”
Millennials like Sarah Halderman, a 24- year-old state director for the Convention of States Project in Council Bluffs, Iowa, want to know how the candidates will ensure the prosperity of the next generation.
“I represent my age group, kind of 24 and coming-up, and I’m looking at what is being handed to me,” said Halderman.
“I don’t care about me, I care about my grandchildren,” said Robert Davidson of Titusville, Florida. “No one’s mentioned our national debt which is now $18 trillion and probably higher than that. The Republican Party has not addressed it, nor has the Democratic Party.”
Many of the Tea Party leaders said the root of all these issues lies in both parties’ failure to maintain a constitutionally limited government.
“Let’s face it,” said Joy Stavely, Arizona state coordinator for Tea Party Patriots. “If we didn’t have a large, overreaching federal government, if we all did what the Constitution said the government should do, then all of the problems everybody has been raising wouldn’t be issues.”