For protesters, it was 2 GOP celebs, no waiting

  • Article by: PAT DOYLE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 7, 2010 - 9:00 PM

A small group of protesters took aim at past statements by Bachmann and Palin.

The protesters had a rare double target: twin celebrity Republican politicians whose words infuriate opponents.

"Hey Sarah, get Michele to do a Palin and quit," read one sign.

As limos pulled up to the Minneapolis Hilton for a pricey political fundraiser, two dozen protesters on the sidewalk outside ridiculed Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin before a fleeting audience of pedestrians and passing motorists.

Some wondered if Bachmann even needed Palin's star power to raise money at the $500-a-person event.

"I think Michele Bachmann has produced her own celebrity status," said Cathy Harrison of Circle Pines. "She's on television every day." Bachmann's frequent appearances on television talk shows became something of a theme for the protest. "She gets on television and says outrageous things," Harrison added.

One sign simply featured a photograph of Bachmann with her comment before the 2008 election questioning whether members of Congress were "pro-America or anti-America."

At one point, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak -- a Democrat and candidate for governor -- posed with a protester holding a sign in the shape of an oversized $10,000 check made out to "anti-American Congress investigator."

Elsewhere, a demonstrator held a sign reading, "Drill Baby Whales," a takeoff on Palin's battle cry "Drill baby drill" to open up more offshore areas for oil drilling.

Some supporters of Bachmann and Palin who happened upon the demonstration seemed amused. Carl Wiggert of La Crosse, Wis., walked through the clump of protesters after he left the rally for Bachmann earlier at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

"I appreciate the weirdos," said Wiggert, who was smoking a cigar and wearing a hat with a rattlesnake decal and the words "liberty or death."

"They're colorful," he said.

Some Democrats at the demonstration said Palin's appearance at the fundraiser showed Bachmann is out of touch with Main Street issues in the Sixth District in the northern Twin Cities.

"Bachmann will raise a lot of money with the Palin appearance, but it could turn around to be a good thing," said Mary Fernstrum of Marine-on-St. Croix, as voters might see Bachmann as a darling of outside interests.

Earlier Wednesday, the fundraiser gave about 200 union members a reason to rally at the state Capitol, where they cheered calls for hiking taxes on the wealthy and government spending to create jobs.

The theme of middle-class Americans being shortchanged by economic recovery resonated with union members, who hoisted signs reading, "Jobs -- Not Big-banker bonuses," and "Fair Taxes."

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, a DFLer representing Minnesota's Fifth Congressional District, used the rally to give a plug to state Sen. Tarryl Clark, the St. Cloud DFLer challenging Republican Bachmann. He said Clark's campaign is forcing Bachmann to look for more money to win reelection.

"If she was not scared ... she wouldn't bring Palin here at all," Ellison said.

Pat Doyle • 651-222-1210

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