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Trouble brewing between the Tea Party movement and the GOP?

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Mark Meckler, 48, a lawyer in Sacramento and independent who was a Republican until eight years ago, threw a party on February 27 thinking he would have six attendees. Instead, 150 people showed up.

"That inspired me to keep going," he said.

Jenny Beth Martin, a former Republican activist in Atlanta, was on the original conference call and said after the surprising success of February 27, a second round was planned for April 15, the day American's taxes are due. Activists used Facebook to spread the word.

"It went viral," said Brendan Steinhauser, director of federal and state campaigns at FreedomWorks. "It was a beautiful moment for us because it's not like you could create that if you wanted to."

FreedomWorks, which is in frequent contact with up to 2,000 local leaders, estimates 3 million to 5 million people have participated in Tea Party meetings or donated money.

Martin said according to local organizers, on April 15 some 1.2 million people attended 850 tea parties. Martin and Meckler are now national coordinators of the Tea Party Patriots, a grouping of more than 1,200 local Tea Party groups.

Following the early rallies, the Tea Party movement evolved quickly, cheered on avidly by right wing commentators, above all Glenn Beck on cable channel Fox News.

"The past year has been like drinking out of a fire hydrant," Martin said. "Everything has moved so fast."

Early on Tea Partiers found an enduring target in the Obama administration's attempts to reform the healthcare system.

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