Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and the Tea Party Patriots are not expecting a warm reception on Capitol Hill Thursday. In a series of conference calls Wednesday night, representatives of the “thousands” of tea partiers who have promised to heed Bachmann’s call to make a “last stand” against Democratic-led health care reform told their members to expect the worst from the members of Congress they plan to lobby.
“The attitude we’re facing right now is very hostile,” Tea Party Patriot national organizer Jenny Beth Martin said on a conference call for regional leaders TPMDC sat in on Wednesday night. “The [members] don’t even want to hear from us on these issues.”
Martin, Bachmann and RedState.com’s Erick Erickson told regional organizers on the calls that Thursday’s rally and storm through the halls of Congress were the tea partiers last chance to stop what Bachmann called the Democrats’ plan to “literally have the power of life and death over you.”
“There are no other rabbits to pull out of the hat,” Bachmann said. “This is the only thing I can think to do.”Bachmann is the woman behind Thursday’s events on Capitol Hill which — according to the numbers promised by regional organizers on the calls — will bring more than 1,000 protesters face-to-face with the members of congress nearing floor votes on a pair of health care reform packages.
Organizers said they expect final floor votes on the health care bills to come as early as this weekend, making the protests tomorrow their last chance to stop the reforms they see as a government takeover of health care.
Events kick off at noon, with Bachmann rallying the tea partiers on the capitol steps. Then the group will fan out across both sides of Congress, directly appealing to a targeted list of House Blue Dogs and moderate Democratic senators to stop the bills their respective leaders are pushing through Congress. Bachmann said the she came up with the idea last Thursday, after learning of existing tea partier plans to protests outside Congressional district offices across the country.
The speed in which the protest was put together was clear on the calls, with protesters conferring about parking, timing and other arrangements on the fly as they chatted on the conference lines.
“Nothing scares a member of Congress more than a freedom-loving American,” Bachmann said. “We learned that during the town halls.”
Bachmann told organizers on one of the calls that her goal for the day was a simple one. “Don’t forget — the purpose of this is to kill the bill,” she said.
“I think if we stop it, it could be dead for 10 years,” Bachmann added.
But before the group can get their message across, they have to get in the building. And some on the calls warned protesters to expect House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring the full force of her office to stop them. Organizers spoke of rumors that Pelosi had ordered Capitol Police to force protester buses to park far away from the Capitol and told police to deny them the chance to deliver letters based on trumped up fears of “anthrax.”
At one point, protestors were told not to dress “too nicely” for fear the media would characterize them as a “Brooks Brothers riot,” after the astroturfed RNC protests that shut down the election recount in 2000.
“The SEIU guys will do their best to send people in suits in there to make it look like we’re spray-painting the Capitol or something,” one national organizer said.
Bachmann didn’t confirm the protesters’ fears, but she didn’t do much to alleviate them either. “Don’t bring your pitchforks — bring your video cameras,” she said to organizers. “That will absolutely scare your Representatives so much it will kill the bill.”
Bachmann called tomorrow’s protest a “desperate act,” but one that grew from a fear among the public of what might happen if the Democratic health reforms come to pass. “There’s no organization here,” she told the callers. “It’s a total organic act.”
Watch Bachmann address the security concerns on Fox News Wednesday afternoon: