Local MoveOn.org members had penciled in on today's schedule a protest in front of Senator John Cornyn's Spring Valley Road office, during which they had hoped to pressure the senator to support President Barack Obama's public health care legislation. But when Paula Anderson, a MoveOn.org member and spokeswoman, showed up at 11:30 a.m., she found another contingent had beat her to the proverbial punch: A large number of Dallas Tea Party members were already set up, voicing their opposition to the proposal.
Anderson was stunned: "We really did not expect them to show up." She estimated the crowd at about 130. "From our perspective we took names of everyone there, and we had about 30 people," she told Unfair Park. "And I would assume they maybe had 100." As it turned out, according to Jessica Sandlin, Cornyn's Texas press secretary, Tea Party-hearties also showed up to health-care legislation rallies in Austin and in San Antonio; after the jump, you'll find a statement from the senator concerning the day's events.
Meanwhile, the person who organized the opposition in Dallas, one Q Coleman, a Tea Party member, estimated the crowd swelled to at least 200. "The vast majority of people here didn't want this," Coleman said. "We beat them 10 to 1. ... We all agree that health care needs reform. We're just opposed to the government taking it over." (Sandlin writes in an e-mail to Unfair Park that "I think there were about 200 people in attendance -- 20 of whom were affiliated with Moveon.")
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A Gallup survey released today shows that since September 2008, an estimated 5 million people have lost their health care coverage.
"I'm just amazed they are so strong in what their beliefs are," Anderson said of the Tea Party members. "With people being without health care, it's just hard to imagine people could be so against the plan [President] Obama is trying to put in place."
Concerning the protests today, this is what Cornyn had to say via a statement Sandlin sent to Unfair Park:
"I fully support the rights of all Texans to free speech and peaceful assembly. This summer, I've been conducting a health care outreach tour across the state to hear from Texans of all walks of life about their concerns with access to health care, the costs, and their ideas for how best to reform our system. What I continue to hear overwhelmingly from Texans -- small business owners, families, doctors, hospital administrators, and others -- is that they do not want Washington to take over the health care system and control their choices and options. I agree wholeheartedly. A full-scale Washington takeover, which is being rushed through Congress as we speak, is a prescription for disaster. Millions will be forced to drop their current private health care insurance, doctors will begin shutting their doors, and our choices as health care consumers will be severely hindered. I remain vehemently opposed to the government plan and will work to defeat it in the Senate and instead produce common-sense health care reforms that are targeted and truly boost access and cut costs for all Texans."