Friday, November 6, 2009
She's a leader.
The Tea Party holds no seat in Congress, but at least 10,000 of the party’s members descended on Capitol Hill Thursday to rally against a Democratic-written health care overhaul.
A plan first hatched and heralded on FOX by iconic conservative Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) grew over the weekend as she e-mailed with a handful of colleagues. By the time activists started arriving at the foot of the Capitol around 8:30 a.m., it was clear no Republican leader could stay away.
Minority Leader John Boehner, Republican Whip Eric Cantor and Conference Chairman Mike Pence all spoke.
Outside, on the grassy lawn just steps from where Barack Obama took the oath of office, an endless lineup of rank-and-file lawmakers and conservative All Stars – Bachmann, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, actor Jon Voigt and Mark Levin, author of “Liberty and Tyranny” – demanded that the health care bill be torn asunder.
“Madam Speaker, throw out this bill,” bellowed Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.).
“Oh come on, tell them how you really feel,” Bachmann yelled to the crowd from a temporary podium at the foot of the Capitol.
“Kill the bill! Kill the bill! Kill the bill!” the crowd replied.
“That’s exactly what you’re going to tell them,” said Bachmann, who was the clear favorite of the assembled masses.
“She has more cojones than a lot of guys,” said Barbara McGrath, who traveled from Troy, Ohio, to participate.
When she took the microphone, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) pointed to the three House office buildings across Independence Avenue from the rally.
“I invite you, when the rally's over, to travel in those halls, look at the walls, find your (member) and walk in," she said. "Let them know how you feel about this bill."
Within an hour, activists were lined up down Independence Avenue to go through the magnetometers in the lobby of the Rayburn Office Building so they could confront members and staff. Bachman told them to each take a page – or a piece of a page – from one of two copies of the bill at the podium and ask a member to explain the text to them.