At Capitol, Tea Party Groups Protest Health Care Bill

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While Democratic leaders try to forge an agreement on health care that will get through the Senate, conservatives gathered in a park outside the Capitol on Tuesday to protest the bill. Anti-tax "tea party" groups bused in demonstrators for a last attempt to block the bill.

Opposition to the measure is mobilizing. The Republican National Committee on Tuesday released a new radio ad in which Chairman Michael Steele says, "The Democrats are accusing us Republicans of trying to delay and stonewall their government takeover of health care. You know what? They're finally right."

The ad shows that as supporters of the health care overhaul are working on the end game, so is the opposition.

"This is our last chance to stop them," Steele says. "Make Washington listen to you."

Support From GOP Lawmakers

At the protest, Doug Barker of Chester, Va., holds up two papier-mache props. "I have a pitchfork and a torch because I'm ready to throw these guys out of office," he says.

He and other protesters are happy to say they are the right-wing mob. Several hundred people gathered to listen to conservative lawmakers such as Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

"You came before and you came again," Bachmann said. "I guess they must be deaf; they can't hear you!"

Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma criticized Democratic efforts to pass the bill.

"The health care bill isn't about health care. The health care bill is about government control," he said. "The health care bill is about eliminating the liberty and freedom to choose what is best for you and your family."

A Touch Of Drama

There were demonstrations at the White House, too: A few dozen people came out to support the health care bill and protest the conservative Democrats they say are holding it up. But the protest at the Capitol was bigger and had more theater to it.

"We fought the British over a 3 percent tea tax. We might as well bring the British back," says William Temple of Brunswick, Ga., an American re-enactor dressed head to toe in a costume from the Revolution.

Temple shook his tricorne and pointed at the Capitol dome behind him.

"Well, it's 1776 all over again, and now we got a House of Lords up here," he said. "So, the 2010 elections are key for us. People are fed up. They've had enough of big government, and so you're seeing a sea change in this country like hasn't been."

So as the lawmakers inside the Capitol make a last push at negotiating a bill, protesters outside are also making a last push: trying to shove the entire health care bill off a cliff.



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