Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tea Party Rally Sparks Dispute Over Potential Turnout

"Democrats are sounding the alarms over the potential turnout at a planned protest in the nation's capital Saturday by opponents of President Obama's domestic policies, but protest organizers say the Democrats' numbers don't add up.

The demonstration is part of the Tea Party Movement and the culmination of a 34-city, 7,000-mile bus tour that began Aug. 28 in Sacramento, Calif. The "partiers" want any health care reform to create more competition and be guided by market principles, not a government-run plan.

D.C. police are closing streets on Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 3rd St. NW as protestors march from Freedom Plaza to the National Mall, where there will be a rally.

But there is some confusion over how many people will show up, and where Democrats are getting their estimates. A top aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned fellow Democrats in a memo obtained by that up to 2 million people may attend.

"It looks like Saturday's event is going to be a huge gathering, estimates ranging from hundreds of thousands to 2 million people," Pelosi aide Doug Thornell wrote, noting that a demonstration held Thursday turned into an impromptu rally for Rep. Joe Wilson, who has come under fire for his outburst during Obama's nationally televised speech to a joint session of Congress

Conservatives have seized on this memo as proof Democrats are playing an expectations game. They say the House leadership wrote the memo in hopes it would be leaked and inflate expectations for the turnout anticipating that it will fall short.

"It's an old political tactic to get out in front and make wild projections and when they're not met, claim their opponents don't have the juice," said Pete Sepp, a spokesman for the National Taxpayers Union, one of the organizers of the rally."

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