Way back in the golden days of 2010, an appearance by President Obama in town could bring out hundreds of Tea Party protestors from around the metro area, equipped with signs like “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” and “Keep Government Out of My Medicare.”
Sure, they were outnumbered even then by liberal protestors, but the Tea Party crowd could still put on a real show. My, what a difference a couple of years makes.
Today, as you no doubt know, President Obama is in Portland for a fundraiser. In response to his visit, Americans For Prosperity organized a “welcome” rally for the President in the South Park blocks. (Obama was originally scheduled to appear at the Portland Art Museum, and apparently nobody told AFP the plans changed.)
And in the middle of one of the most contentious and important presidential contests in recent history, the AFP rally drew, literally, tens of people. Attendees numbered just under 40, and that includes people who were just wandering by and stopped to listen.
The message of the rally was—weirdly—more pro-coal than anti-Obama, as if the fossil fuels industry is underwriting Americans for Prosperity (oh wait — they are).
The rally even featured James Buchal, the Oregon Republican Party’s candidate for Attorney General, who downplayed the impacts of the coal industry. “[W]e hear about the health effects of coal dust. It’s gonna kill us all; it’s gonna make us sick. Look, coal miners can live in this stuff for 30 and 40 years without getting sick.”
Despite the low turnout (I saw walking tours of historic downtown sites that had more people than this rally), KOIN Local 6 was there with a three-person crew to cover the rally—even doing a live shot from the event.