Last Updated:October 21 @ 05:07 pm

GOP demonstrators mostly no-show in Tampa

By Mike Schneider and Tamara Lush

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Protesters blamed Tropical Storm Isaac and a massive police presence Monday for their weak showing at the Republican National Convention. Only a fraction of the 5,000 expected demonstrators actually turned out to criticize the GOP's economic and social policies.

Hundreds of police officers and heavily armed members of the Florida National Guard patrolled the streets of downtown Tampa. The protesters were required to conduct their rallies and parades in designated areas and along specified routes, none closer than about a half-mile from where Republicans would be gathering.

"They've militarized Tampa. The chilling effect has succeeded," said Cara Jennings, a voter outreach organizer from Palm Beach County.

About 200 people marched as part of the Coalition to March on the RNC's rally in an empty lot near the arena where the Republicans will be nominating Mitt Romney as their candidate for president. Sporadic heavy rain lashed the city and winds were gusting at 35 mph as Isaac passed to the west of Tampa in the Gulf of Mexico. The Republicans themselves had canceled most of their Monday activities because of the storm.

The 60 organizing groups included labor unions, Students for a Democratic Society, Veterans for Peace, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Occupy Wall Street and Code Pink.

Florida labor organizer Jose Soto said 16 buses of protesters from New York, Miami and the Florida Panhandle canceled because of the storm. He said the bus companies didn't want their equipment and drivers headed into possible problems.

"It's a calamity but all the people here are delegates for those who can't be here," said Soto of the University of Florida's Graduate Assistants United local.

Protester Mick Kelly of Minneapolis said the organizing groups were carrying on with the planned march, saying U.S. politics are dominated by the richest 1 percent.

"We demand and we will fight for good jobs," he said.

Jennings, who wore a pink, neck-to-knees vagina outfit decorated with sparkles, said she was protesting the GOP's position against abortion rights.

"The right-wing agenda is turning back time regarding women's bodies," she said.

A breakoff group later marched against the wars that are ongoing overseas, but still stayed peaceful.

Cheri Honkala, the Green Party's vice presidential candidate, told the crowd that, "On Election Day, we need to occupy the ballots." She said more women need to be involved in the nation's leadership.

"It's time for the men to move over. It's time for the mommas to right the wrongs," she said.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat, said the protesters had been given additional space and access to toilets and water.

"We are being supportive of people who want to come and want to offer an alternative opinion," Buckhorn said.

But he said that police planned to respond quickly if groups broke off from protesters and were intent on damaging and destroying property.

"We want folks to know that we are here to help, but we are also here to stop you if you choose to do anything to the contrary of what we expect," Buckhorn said.

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Associated Press writer Gary Fineout contributed to this story.

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22 Comments

  1. brierebearComment by brierebear
    August 27, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

    “Hundreds of police officers and heavily armed members of the Florida National Guard patrolled the streets of downtown Tampa.”

    The Florida GOP message: don’t you dare come down to protest (especially Voter ID).

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    Rating: 1.5/5 (21 votes cast)
    • Larry ArnoldComment by Larry Arnold
      August 27, 2012 @ 4:22 pm

      1. Last time I checked Tampa police and the National Guard troops called up to support them reported to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat.
      2. Democrats favor more government. This is what more government looks like.

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      Rating: 4.5/5 (26 votes cast)
    • stopspendingComment by stopspending
      August 27, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

      You can come any time you want and protest anything you want. Did you read that the Dem mayor of Tampa gave them plenty of room to protest, extra toilets, extra water, whatever they would need. They chose not to come but, hey, quit picking on those that did not come. It was not there fault. There was nothing they could do – (fill in the blank)- it was the Repubs fault, the 1% fault, George’s fault, the economy’s fault, the job creators fault, whatever.

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      Rating: 4.1/5 (18 votes cast)
  2. Glen HendersonComment by Glen Henderson
    August 27, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

    Jennings, who wore a pink, neck-to-knees vagina outfit decorated with sparkles, said she was protesting the GOP’s position against abortion rights.

    “The right-wing agenda is turning back time regarding women’s bodies,” she said.

    - Umm, has anyone notified Ms Jennings that the Democrats have decided to ban women with their children (including breastfeeding mothers) from even ATTENDING their convention without jumping through a bunch of extra hoops? Please, tell me again how the REPUBLICANS are waging the war against women – I keep forgetting.

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    Rating: 4.7/5 (50 votes cast)
  3. joelinpdxComment by joelinpdx
    August 27, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

    So, let’s do the math. 99 percent of a population of 313 million is 309 million, or so. Basically what we are seeing is the 99 percenters with this huge population are incapable of staging a protest of 5000 people.

    Apparently someone is lying. Since the opposition to the GOP is liberals it must be them, since the liberals do hold on to their first place title as best liars.

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    Rating: 4.6/5 (35 votes cast)
    • yoldsComment by yolds
      August 27, 2012 @ 7:56 pm

      but joel, it was raining….. “You wouldn’t want us to get wet would you, we may get sick and have to have you pay for more doctor bills for us, you wouldn’t want that now would you” Or they may use this one…”It’s George Bush’s fault that we couldn’t make it happen”

      Either way, we will not win an argument with them, because after all…you CANNOT FIX STUPID!

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      Rating: 4.2/5 (15 votes cast)
    • canada3dayerComment by canada3dayer
      August 27, 2012 @ 11:56 pm

      for the most part, when dealing with these silly protesters keep in mind the adage never argue with an idiot – they’ll drag you down to their level then beat you with experience. :)

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      Rating: 3.3/5 (8 votes cast)
  4. superinfidelComment by superinfidel
    August 27, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

    ‘Jennings, who wore a pink, neck-to-knees vagina outfit decorated with sparkles, said she was protesting the GOP’s position against abortion rights.’ That’s just gross. More proof that lefties have no morals or self-control. Know what else is huge and pink? Pigs.

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    Rating: 4.6/5 (34 votes cast)
    • sistertereseComment by sisterterese
      August 27, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

      Oh come on! Let’s not besmirk pigs! Pigs actually are quite intelligent–unlike the dumbocraps.

      “They’ve militarized Tampa. The chilling effect has succeeded,” said Cara Jennings, a voter outreach organizer from Palm Beach County.

      Spoken like a true propagandist commie!

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      Rating: 4.2/5 (16 votes cast)
  5. superinfidelComment by superinfidel
    August 27, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

    They need lots of bikers in Tampa during this convention. Bikers, unlike police, are not much into worrying about lefties’ civil rights. Just the opposite.

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    Rating: 4.5/5 (24 votes cast)
  6. mvotano58Comment by mvotano58
    August 27, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

    I don’t think I ever read anything about the Revolution being called off due to a little rain. If I had a message I felt was that important I don’t believe I would let a little bad weather stop me.

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    Rating: 4.4/5 (26 votes cast)
  7. billwvComment by billwv
    August 27, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

    Only a ‘fraction’ of the 5,000 turned out. WAIT—WAIT That’s actually 200. Now sprinkled around a city with the land mass size of Tampa INSTEAD of a LOUD PROTEST sounds to me like a FIZZLE. Or maybe due to the rain: a constant DRIZZLE.

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    • crunchemComment by crunchem
      August 27, 2012 @ 10:54 pm

      yeah, I was kind of running the numbers, too. 200 people, 60 groups listed, therefore only 3 or 4 per group showed up? bwahhahahahahahaha!

      I wonder how many “protesters” will show up at the DNC convention; no organized group, just patriotic Americans with flags and posters, no vagina costumes.

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      Rating: 3.9/5 (11 votes cast)
  8. David PeacockComment by David Peacock
    August 27, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

    i ACTUALLY HEARD THEY WERE BLAMING “BUSH”.

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  9. middlegroundComment by middleground
    August 27, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

    “60 organizing groups included labor unions, Students for a Democratic Society, Veterans for Peace, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Occupy Wall Street and Code Pink.”

    This sounds like like a real “grass roots” protest with its “Rent a Mob” approach in getting 200 hard core to tell the world how unfair Republicans have been to their group of victims. These 60 organizing groups all seem similar to those I had to say I didn’t belong to when I applied for a security clearance. Isn’t it amazing what were once considered Communist-front groups have now become associates of the Democratic Party. I wonder if DD Form 98 still lists them as subversive and their members as suspects in supporting the WCP’s objectives or if that has become another politically incorrect thing to ask a person seeking a government job?

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    Rating: 4.3/5 (19 votes cast)
  10. slickzipComment by slickzip
    August 27, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

    What a bunch of socialist liberal ODUMBA ,,,,,,,,

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    Rating: 3.3/5 (7 votes cast)
  11. mercyComment by mercy
    August 27, 2012 @ 7:32 pm

    Pink Vaginas? HELP

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    Rating: 3.3/5 (7 votes cast)
    • canada3dayerComment by canada3dayer
      August 27, 2012 @ 11:58 pm

      where’s the “diversity”? sounds like they were all Caucasian…

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      Rating: 2.3/5 (6 votes cast)
  12. jenerseaComment by jenersea
    August 27, 2012 @ 7:35 pm

    Why is the Southern Christian Leadership Conference parading around with people who promote abortion and homosexuality? What kind of sick joke it that?

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    • JDZComment by JDZ
      August 27, 2012 @ 8:26 pm

      The SCLC is a gay organization.

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  13. James JaremaComment by James Jarema
    August 28, 2012 @ 5:44 am

    I guess George Soros and the Tides Foundation had a bad week in the stock market.

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  14. kentuckycolonelComment by kentuckycolonel
    August 28, 2012 @ 6:40 am

    I think come November the American “mainstream” media is in for a real big surprise. If you think that Reagan’s victory over Carter was something …just wait until this election. The press has shown three thing:
    1. they are out of touch with America
    2. as promoters of lies and deception they can no longer be
    trusted as a true journalistic enterprise.
    3. the American people are smarter then they think and are not
    influenced by “Hollywood” types and media hype: show me
    the results of your plans and vision not your “bling” is
    our objective. Substance over totally failed promises. Issues over glitz, truth over deception.

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    Rating: 3.4/5 (5 votes cast)

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