WASHINGTON, D.C. — Days before an expected vote on health care reform in the U.S. House, thousands of protesters descended on the Capitol Thursday to rally around Rep. Michele Bachmann and other GOP lawmakers who have denounced the legislation.
“You came for an emergency House call,” Bachmann, R-Minn., yelled to the sign-waiving crowd. “And are they going to listen? Oh yeah, oh yeah. They’re going to listen. It was Thomas Jefferson who said a revolution every now and then is a good thing. What do you think?”
The crowd met Bachmann’s question with a thunderous roar. Homemade signs that offered suggestions like “No Obama Care,” “You Can’t Fix Stupid” and “Waterboard Congress” were hoisted higher into the air.
Without delving into the specifics of 1,990-page health care bill, Bachmann focused much of her speech on the ideals of freedom and liberty.
“You literally stand with us on hallowed ground, this is hallowed ground of freedom,” Bachmann said, warning that Congress was in its eleventh hour on health care reform.
“And that freedom was purchased at an incalculable price that none of us could ever truly comprehend…” Bachmann continued. “And, so, now we are that privileged generation — privileged to be here today, privileged as you stand here in place of other freedom- loving Americans all over the country today who would give anything to be where you are…but they are here, can you feel them? I can feel them. Americans yearning to keep a country that will be free.”
Bachmann was joined on steps of the Capitol by many other GOP lawmakers, including Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio, Republican whip Eric Cantor of Virginia and Rep. Tom Price of Georgia.
Actors John Voight and John Ratzenberger, who played Cliff on the TV series “Cheers,” also accompanied the House members and rallied the gathered protesters.
But, for all the speeches, there was a large group within the crowd who had come with only one thing in mind: to see and hear Bachmann.
Chanting “We Want Michelle,” the group repeatedly interrupted other Republican lawmakers as they discussed health care with the crowd.
“We would not have come if the GOP said, ‘Come,'” said Diane Leone, an interior decorator who came to Washington from Florida and considers herself a member of the Tea Party movement. “We came to hear her [Bachmann] speak, not the GOP.”
Leone specified that she saw Bachmann as more “real” than other Republicans — a “rogue” member of the GOP.
“She is just a real person, she’s genuine, and she talks like we talk,” Leone said.
Bachmann promised to take a group of the protesters through the Capitol and office buildings later today.
Cynthia Dizikes covers Minnesota’s congressional delegation and reports on issues and developments in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at cdizikes[at]minnpost[dot]com.