Washington Times: Hot Button

Answering the call

Thousands of conservative activists answered Rep. Michele Bachmann’s call to come to Washington and protest the Democratic health care expansions being pushed through Congress.

Standing at the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, the activists chanted, “Kill the bill,” and cheered Republican members of Congress who promised to vote against it. Conservative stars such as “Liberty and Tyranny” author Mark Levin and actor Jon Voight spoke to the crowd, drawing attention to, as Mr. Levin put it, “the wrecking ball” the Democratic majority “has taken to this magnificent society.”

Mrs. Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, had asked activists to attend her press conference, which she called a “House call,” during an appearance on Fox News last week. And on short order, activists, many of whom had organized previous “tea party” events, began organizing buses and car pools to get there.

Advocacy groups such as Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks also helped get the word out.

FreedomWorks spokesman Adam Brandon said, “This was all put together in less than five days. We alerted our members, who know what to do after a summer of organizing. Within days, buses were chartered from as far away as Georgia and folks even bought flights from the West Coast.”

Others, such as Mike and Bonnie McCaffrey, came on their own. They said they got up at 5 a.m. to drive from their home in Hawley, Pa., to Washington for the event and to lobby their congressman, Rep. Christopher Carney, a Democrat. “It’s important,” Mrs. McCaffrey said.

The Democrats, for their part, think Mrs. Bachmann’s approach will backfire eventually.

Democratic National Committee press secretary Hari Sevugan dismissed Mrs. Bachmann’s event by saying, “If the Republican Party wants to make Michele Bachmann the voice of the party, that’s more than fine with us. We’ll help circulate the petition.”