Last Friday on Fox News, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) announced that she was organizing an anti-health reform rally on Capitol Hill, calling on Americans “literally by the busload to come to Washington D.C.” to protest reform. The next day, Bachmann summoned everyone to “get off the couch, get in your car, get a van together, get a bus together, but get here!” “We’re going to have a big party,” she said.
Around 4,000 right-wing activists showed up on Capitol Hill yesterday to protest reform. Last night on Fox News, Bachmann inflated the attendance numbers drastically. She also tried to paint the event as entirely grassroots, despite admitting that she had organized it:
BACHMANN: Today people told me they heard that call out on your show on Friday night, and they immediately started contacting other people. And this was totally word of mouth. This was nothing that we organized, nothing that we planned. We didn’t order one bus, one carload. Nothing. Complete word of mouth. And estimates are anywhere between 20 and 45,000 people had assembled. […]
And also this absolutely outstanding grouping of people that we had today at the Capitol. This is organic. It was a meet up. It was spontaneous.
Bachmann’s claim is laughable. Aside from her leadership in organizing the protest, the corporate front group Americans For Prosperity helped coordinate. AFP mobilized about 40 buses to bring activists to DC, with AFP staffers standing at their designated bus drop off point near the Capitol, handing out signs, directions, talking points, petitions, and donuts to protesters. Moreover, notorious astroturf group FreedomWorks got involved in the action as well:
The protesters were fueled — literally and figuratively — by lobbying organizations like Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, the groups behind the August town hall protests and “tea party” events. Freedomworks promoted this week’s event on their Web site DontKillGrandma.com with recommendations for protest tactics.
Moreover, AFP hosted Bachmann on a conference call the day before the rally to discuss their “House Call.”
“So you’re organizing and asking people to come meet you on the steps of the capital,” Fox host Sean Hannity asked Bachmann last Friday after her announcement. “Thursday at noon,” she said, “You can go to MicheleBachmann.com for more information.”