Former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) appeared Saturday for a Tea Party rally at a venue that has previously been the site of some very high-profile recent protests from the left: The Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison, where liberals have appeared in great numbers to loudly protest Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union agenda.
In addition to Palin, other speakers at the event included John Fund and Andrew Breitbart. And on hand today were not only Palin supporters, who joined her in supporting the absent Walker, but also counter-protesters who oppose her and Walker. So how many people turned out? Compared to previous rallies, which attracted tens of thousands, not a whole lot. The local CBS affiliate reports:
State Department of Administration officials said Capitol police estimated that about 6,500 people were outside on the Capitol grounds and vicinity by about 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. There is no way to accurately determine how many people were attending any specific event, officials said.
A photo here from the CBS channel shows the clustering of people on one corner of the Capitol — whereas this reporter was present in late February at an event that saw over 70,000 people, surrounding the whole building.As the Wisconsin State Journal reports, a separate counter-rally had been scheduled for the opposite side of the Capitol, but even this too petered out:
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Capitol, a counter rally gathered to voice continued opposition to Walker and the Republican senators. Though, some would argue the counter-protesters gathered mainly to show their disdain for the tea party rally.
Madison Mayor-elect Paul Soglin, state Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, D-Madison, and state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, all took turns ginning up the troops. But the rally lost steam early as many of its supporters headed to the other side of the building to disrupt the tea party rally.
Interestingly, as the photo above shows, the rally was organized by the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, with Palin and other speakers at a podium with a sign proclaiming “I am AFP.”
Americans for Prosperity is, of course, a Koch brothers financed group. The Koch name has popped up quite a bit in the Wisconsin protests — most notably after Walker’s 20-minute phone call in late February with blogger Ian Murphy, who was posing as “David Koch”. During that call, Walker discussed his ideas for tricking the Democrats into coming back by pretending to negotiate, his ambition to bust the public employee unions in the mold of President Reagan’s firing of the PATCO air traffic controllers — an event that Walker said had led to the downfall of the Soviet Union — and that he had considered (but ruled out) planting troublemakers in the crowds of protesters.
Also notable, beside denouncing what she called “thug tactics” by union leaders in Wisconsin, Palin in many ways reserved her harshest criticism for Republican leaders in Washington for giving away too much to President Obama on the issue of spending cuts: “What we need is for you to stand up, GOP, and fight! Maybe I should ask some of the Badger women’s hockey team, those champions, maybe I should ask them if we should be suggesting to GOP leaders, they need to learn how to fight like a girl!”
Here is a video of Palin’s speech, courtesy of Wisconsin Reporter:
Special thanks to Phil Ejercito at Dane101.com, for the photo of Palin at the podium.