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Tea Party activists swarm Capitol Hill -- can they kill healthcare bill?

November 5, 2009 |  7:44 am

olice stand near protesters outside Portsmouth High School where President Barack Obama held a town hall on health care in July 2009
The Tea Party is coming to Washington today.

Minnesota's firebrand Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann stoked the rebellion by organizing today's noontime rally against healthcare reform on the steps of the Capitol. Galvanizing the anger that erupted over the issue at last summer's congressional town hall meetings, she urged her loyal band of citizen lobbyists to "Go into the Capitol and find members of Congress. Don't bring your pitchforks, bring your video cameras. And get them on record saying how they're going to vote and why."

Predicting that the healthcare bill would impose huge tax increases on Americans, Bachmann called the battle "the Super Bowl of Freedom," adding: "Nothing is more influential than an eyeball-to-eyeball meeting between a freedom-loving constituent and a member of Congress. Nothing scares a member of Congress more than freedom-loving Americans."

Heeding the call but unable to make the trip, some activists in Arkansas are planning to engage in what might be called a Fax Fight, besieging their elected officials via fax -- all at noon -- with demands to kill the healthcare bill. They are especially targeting Arkansas Democrat Mike Ross, one of the Blue Dog Democrats from swing districts where a vote for a healthcare bill with a public option could spell political trouble at home.

The Capitol phone system can probably handle the traffic. As for the political system, not so clear.

President Obama is planning to lobby members of Congress personally Friday, touting a bill that has defined his first year in office. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, planning a Saturday vote, is corralling the Blue Dog Democrats, many sobered by Tuesday's election results.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Police watch over protesters outside Portsmouth High School last July as President Obama held a town hall meeting on healthcare. Credit: McCollester / Getty Images

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