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Small Tea Party protest against candidate Romney

Sep 4, 2011, 4:26 p.m.
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during the Republican presidential debate in Ames, Iowa August 11, 2011. REUTERS/Charlie Neibergall/Pool

CONCORD, New Hampshire (Reuters) - A small group of conservative Tea Party activists protested against presidential candidate Mitt Romney's presence at a rally on Sunday, in an embarrassment to the former Massachusetts governor.

Some 20 protesters gathered to give Romney a rude welcome at a Tea Party rally in Concord. They accused Romney, who is seeking the Republican nomination to take on President Barack Obama next year, of only paying lip service to Tea Party fiscal conservative principles.

"We do not need leadership that puts up a finger in the wind to see which way the wind is blowing and then changes direction," said Tim Carter, a demonstrator.

Romney, the most moderate of the top three Republican candidates, is disliked by some conservatives in the party who particularly object to a healthcare reform he enacted in Massachusetts that was a model for Obama's 2010 national healthcare overhaul.

He was invited to Sunday's event by the Tea Party Express, but another wing of the Tea Party movement, headed by libertarian activist group FreedomWorks objected to him being there.

The protesters were outnumbered by about 200 other people who turned up to hear Romney in Concord, where he was giving a speech.

In recent weeks, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, favored by many Tea Party supporters, has taken the lead in the race to become the Republican presidential nominee. A recent Gallup poll showed 29 percent of Republicans would likely vote for Perry, while 17 percent would support Romney.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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