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Montana Dems Ready for Showdown at Obama Speech

Fearing hordes of protesters, Montana Democrats are furiously recruiting the party faithful to turn out for President Obama's scheduled health-care speech Friday in a suburb of Bozeman.

Demonstrators, of the same ilk that have disrupted town hall forums across the country in recent weeks, are targeting Obama's appearance as their most high-profile opportunity yet to make their case against a plan they perceive to be a government takeover of the nation's health -care system.

Worried about a potential town-hall-style maelstrom, the Montana Democratic Party sent out an e-mail alert to supporters Thursday urging them to show up Friday morning.

"Last fall, when Swiftboaters and special interests attacked President Obama, folks like you came to his defense," wrote Anna Gustina, the state director of Organizing for America, a grass-roots group born out of the Obama presidential campaign. "We knocked on doors, talked to neighbors, and made our voices heard.

"Now, we need to do it again. This time, he's under attack by Washington insiders, insurance companies, and well-financed special interests who don't go a day without spreading lies and stirring up fear. We need to show that we're sick and tired of it, and that we're ready for real change, this year."

Gustina's group is working with the Montana Democratic Party to bus in supporters from across the state. Saying she expects "quite a few people" who will be attending Friday's speech "other than to support Obama," Gustina said the goal is to rally as big a caravan of Democratic health-care proponents as possible. Among those joining the caravan are state labor union activists from the Service Employees International Union.

Jake Eaton, leader of the local conservative chapter of Americans for Prosperity, told the Billings Gazette he expects to have as many as 1,000 protesters show up. "There will be no shortage of opposition," he told the paper.

Apparently, many in his group have become regular demonstrators against Obama's agenda. They include activists who helped organize the anti-tax "Tea Party" protests in the spring. Besides tea baggers, Democrats say they won't be surprised to see birthers show up to chastise the president in Montana.

The fringe birther issue -- the theory that Obama was born in Kenya and, therefore, is not a U.S. citizen as constitutionally mandated for the office of the presidency -- has surfaced at various health-care town hall meetings, including one in Oklahoma.

Senate Democratic leaders who are working overtime to defend the president's health-care plan certainly seem to think the health-care protests have been orchestrated in large part by the birthers. As Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said recently, "These town hall meetings have been orchestrated by the tea baggers and the birthers to just be a free-for-alls, make a lot of noise, go on YouTube and show discord."

By Mary Ann Akers  |  August 13, 2009; 3:50 PM ET
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Next: Rep. McHenry Not Ready For Birther Status


"Besides tea-baggers..." Oh my, Mary Ann, you are funny. That time off did you some good!

Posted by: MikeK3 | August 13, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I pray for civility and no loaded guns! Please, God, Protect our President from crazies, scared irrational older folks, and non-thinkers.

Posted by: nellie3ster | August 13, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Democrats are going to bus in Obama supporters from all over the state? And the SIEU employees are going to help organize pro-Obama protests? But isn't that - gasp - "astroturfing"???????? I'm shocked, shocked, that any group of Americans would actually organize a protest - especially conservatives.

Posted by: Quitaque1 | August 13, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Any of those birther and tea-baggers want to go nose to nose with Jon Tester? Some how, I can't see it. Montana is home on the range not home of the deranged.

Obama will do just fine. Let the lunatics scream and yell. America wants Health Insurance reform.

Posted by: thebobbob | August 13, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Organizing for America, a "grass-roots" group.

Why don't you call THIS astro-turf?

Posted by: DanS3 | August 14, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Organizing for America, a "grass-roots" group.

Why don't you call THIS astro-turf?

Posted by: DanS3 | August 14, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Most of all those protester, they are either on Medicaid or Medicare (Government run helath insurance) and they are against Public plan that would support the most of small businesses who can not buy health insurance anmore.

Posted by: tqmek1 | August 14, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Another showdown?
Where's the civil discourse?
I guess for the most part it has disappeared in the United States.
Even on the floors of the Congress of the United States civil discourse is loosing out all over.
What can be done?


dePaul Consiglio

Posted by: depaulconsiglio | August 14, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

"Astro-turfing" is when you hide the financial supporters- rally people through fear and false rhetoric- then tell the media that you have nothing to do with it.

"Grassroots" campaiging is when you fully disclose who your backers are- provide people with truthful information so they can decide if they want to join you- and express ownership of what your group stands for.

I am shocked! shocked that you do not see the difference. Let us have civil discourse. That means that you go to a townhall to hear ideas that maybe different than yours...not disrupt so that those ideas can not be expressed.

Posted by: emontan | August 14, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

When people are coming in from other parts of Montana, it isn't your so-called "astro-turfing", they are people who have a right to be at a Montana rally/town hall. Montana is a large state with a low population, meaning most people will have to travel some distance to particpate. East of the devide has a tendency to be more conservative and west of the devide has more liberals. Belgrade was selected, I'm sure, by it's proximity to Yellowstone Park, so I'm sure many dems will want to be there and will travel to do it. Wish I could be there!

Posted by: alaskan2 | August 14, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mary Ann, The "ilk" that you say have "disrupted" town hall forums across the country, are those of us who don't agree with the President's plan. We are also Americans, and we have as much right to a voice on this issue as you, or any of the screaming libs on this forum do. Perhaps that would be foreign to those of you who think it is okay to call names when people disagree with you. But, that's just how it is today. Try to be a little more civil, and while you're at it, get your facts straight. These people who are disagreeing with the President have every right to do so. Or did they already do away with the Constitution while I was asleep last night?

Posted by: PrairieStar | August 14, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I pray for civility and no loaded guns! Please, God, Protect our President from crazies, scared irrational older folks, and non-thinkers.

Posted by: nellie3ster | August 13, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse
What you're asking for is that God protect Obama from what the Republican party has evolved into.

Remember, these are the people that think Sarah Palin is smart enough for high office.

Posted by: dennissuper | August 14, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I am looking forward to reading these post a year after his reform goes in effect,but i dont think he will get it to pass unless he does it against the people's desire.he is up to no good. ok,dems report me for being against his reform,frankly i dont give a damn!

Posted by: nlb1954 | August 15, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Organizing for America? "Grass roots?" SEIU? "Grass roots?" Lady, your red (the traditional kind of red) panties are showing.

Posted by: daskinner | August 17, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Prarie Star: Yes you have just as much right to voice a respectful opinion as anyone else. Just not standing up and screeching "I want my America Back, I'm Scared." That is not asking a question or voicing an opinion about healthcare reform. That woman was trying to convey the idea that there was something much worse than healthcare reform to be afraid of.

Posted by: MaggiePi | August 17, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

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