Conservative Group's Impact On Debate
Crowd Counts Vary, Leading Evening News
As certain as Halloween candy on late-August grocery shelves, obtaining honest, accurate details from the mainstream media on events in Crawford, Texas, hasn't proven easy.
Move America Forward's pro-American counter-demonstration against Cindy Sheehan's Ben Cohen-funded political stunt is being characterized in many ways, but thankfully not ignored by the media.
It led local newscasts here and there are now a number of stories available online, ready for Sunday's editions.
Before we examine the "You Don't Speak For Me, Cindy!" caravan's media coverage, here's how I see its significance:
--- In recent memory, has a successful political force ever been built this quickly? For its fresh energy on hot-button issues, Move America Forward now consistently generates headlines.
--- Is it a model for future activist movements? Combining California's top GOP strategists with a highly-rated San Francisco talk host, put the battle plans together with the megaphone, in a highly successful combination. It's a shot in the arm for conservatives.
--- If MAF hadn't organized the caravan, would any group have ever stepped forward to counter Cindy's circus? It's distressing that her media stunt continued that long without a well-organized response.
--- It also provides a blueprint for saving talk radio from oblivion, where it's now rapidly headed. Listeners like their favorite talk stations to take an active role on major issues. Floundering outlets should take note.
Initially, mainstream media reports on MAF's Saturday arrival and rally were hard to come by, but by evening there were a good number filed.
How many caravan supporters reached Crawford? Numbers vary, from hundreds to thousands.
From KGO-7's Mark Matthews:
The protests have been going on at either end of this little town.
Crawford is a town of about 700 people, but there are about 3,000 people present. To one side you can see a small contingent of supporters of Cindy Sheehan in the actual spot where she began her protest weeks ago.
On the other side, supporters of the President, supporters of the war in Iraq. These are two smaller representations of much larger rallies that were happening earlier Saturday.
The "You Don't Speak For Me, Cindy" caravan that started in San Francisco earlier this week came to rest at the Crawford Community Center Saturday afternoon. The group is led by Roseville mother Deborah Johns. Her son has served two tours in Iraq. She says Cindy Sheehans' opposition to the war doesn't represent the feelings of most military families.
Deborah Johns, caravan leader: "The majority finally, someone is getting up to speak for the majority. And we're not going to be silent any longer."
A crowd of more than a 1,000 joined Johns and several Gold Star families whose sons have been killed in Iraq.
From the AP:
CRAWFORD, Texas -- Several thousand people descended on President Bush's adopted hometown Saturday, most in a cross-country caravan for a pro-Bush rally and others to support an anti-war demonstration led by grieving mother Cindy Sheehan.
Bush supporters gathered for an event marking the culmination of the "You don't speak for me, Cindy!" tour, which started last week in California. The crowd of about 1,500 chanted, "Cindy, go home!"
"You are giving hope and encouragement to the enemies of America," said former California Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, a Republican who co-founded the group that coordinated the rally.
From Lisa Sandberg of the San Antonio News-Express:
Thousands of Bush supporters descended on this small town this afternoon for a rally aimed at countering the three-week anti-war vigil led by California mom Cindy Sheehan.
Waving American flags and chanting “Cindy Go Home,” a caravan of Bush backers drove into town around noon to show their support for the U.S. war in Iraq.
The town's police chief estimated the crowds on both sides of the divide at about 8,000.
“It's the biggest one yet -- ever,” Chief Donnie Tidmore said. “The (Bush supporters) maybe outnumber the other side but it's close.”
He added that there were a few minor flare ups and several people treated for heat exhaustion but nothing serious.
From Canada's CTV Network:
Pro-Bush supporters picket in downtown Crawford, Texas on Saturday. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Thousands of people gathered in Crawford, Texas on Saturday to show either their support for the war in Iraq or their opposition to it.
Most of the visitors to Crawford, the town nearest the ranch of U.S. President George Bush, attended a rally supporting U.S. involvement in Iraq.
The town was the final stop of the "You don't speak for me, Cindy!", which got underway in California last week.
Some of the best updates are found at this Free Republic thread.
Meanwhile, still no word on what type of jet brought Air America's Randi Rhodes to Texas, we sure hope she didn't have to resort to flying coach with the "little people".
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