October 4th, 2010
On Friday, the Vota Tus Valores tour continued with its $1-million bid to win votes for Carly Fiornia. It wasn’t a happy day.
Day 5, Stop 1: Santa Cruz (Mercury News)
The dozen or so protestors, who met the bus at its scheduled stop at the Santa Cruz Mission, outnumbered supporters. The protestors organized when they heard the bus was coming to town and accused tour leaders of trying to mislead Latino voters.
They noted, for example, how Fiorina supports Arizona’s new crack-down on illegal immigration.
“We are here to unmask candidate Fiorina who in reality is not with the Latino community,” Erik Larsen, an SEIU organizer said in a statement.
The confrontation between the two groups was noisy, but without incident.
Day 5, Stop 2: Hollister (Courage Campaign)
This little city is known not for a clothing line (which is Southern Californian) but for its agriculture. One of my first professional tasks was doing an inventory of a seed distributor in Hollister thus, ironically, starting my career as a bean-counter all too literally.
In Hollister, the Vota Bus was greeted by an even larger crowd of SEIU and LGBT equality counter-protesters – 24 in total.
Alfonso showed more signs of frustration at this stop. “I know you’re being paid,” Alfonso said to the crowd dismissively.
Day 5, Stop 3: Salinas (The Californian)
A busload of social conservatives tailed by a van full union members and another of progressive advocates are California’s unlikely caravan battling for the Latino vote.
On Friday, they rolled into the Salinas Valley.
The conservative “Vote Your Values” campaign, which supports Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, stopped at Central Park in Salinas to remind Latinos that Democrats are pro-choice and support gay marriage.
The fight over the Latino vote turned into a shouting match between the two sides with few undecideds to hear. The victorious could win the races for the senate and governor.
The roughly 30 union members in attendance out-numbered the group from the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles by about two to one.
Alfonso Aguilar, the group’s executive director, used a microphone to push Latinos to vote for Republican senate candidate Carly Fiorina, but the jeers and chants of “si se peude” nearly drowned him out.
Day 5, Stop 4: Soledad
In Soledad, Pastor Richard Ramos inspired the eight people who had been bused in. You can hear him here.
Day 5, Non-Stop 5: Pasa Robles
Day 5, Non-Stop 6: Santa Maria
The NOM sponsored tour decided to skip the last two stops of the day. This may have been a poor choice, as Courage Campaign reported that there were no protestors and quite a few local Latinos at their planned stop locations.
By this point, Valores has skipped or relocated about as many scheduled stops as they have honored. Perhaps that is why their website has now removed all of the planned stops prior to today.
And on to Saturday, Day 6.
Day 6, Stop 1: Santa Barbara
In Santa Barbera, the Valores tour made the last-minute unusual (and bad) decision to have the first “rally” at their hotel. Sadly, they forgot to tell the press. (Courage Campaign)
Rather than actually get up and engage voters in Santa Barbara, organizers opted instead to host a “private meeting” with bagels and coffee in a conference room provided for free by the hotel.
Tour organizers looked shocked when we arrived at the hotel.
“This is a private meeting,” one organizer quickly said.
“It was advertised on the website,” I replied.
“It was?” asked a new organizer on the tour (he won’t confirm his name so we’ve just been referring to him as “Country Club” because he always looks ready to play golf).
“Yes [it was posted],” confirmed Allegra Herburt-Hewell, Project Director for the Latino Partnership Initiative.
As I sat down for “the meeting” a different organizer began communicating in Portuguese (we believe) with Allegra.
We were then told by Country Club just before being asked to leave that the meeting was posted for people who were invited.
A photographer and reporter from the Santa Barbara Press were at Mission Park, the original set location, and luckily were able to get in contact with Allegra and make it to the Best Western Inn in time for the last minute “meeting.”
I was unable to find anything mentioning the tour on the Santa Barbara News-Press website.
Day 6, Stop 2: Camarillo
In Camarillo, we stopped at a private parking lot that included Bank of America, as well as “Nueva Vida”, a Spanish-Christian radio network, for an event.
Courage Campaign doesn’t discuss how well the event went, but a picture suggest that there were a dozen or so listening.
Day 6, Non-Stop 3: Dana Point
The bus was unable to go the the Ritz Carlton, where they were scheduled. But it turns out that their purpose was not really to draw up a crowd anyway. (Orange Juice)
At some point yesterday they erased the Ritz-Carlton “event” from their schedule. Were they trying to throw us off, or had they actually realized that there are no Latinos in that area to convert to the gospel of hate and free markets? Turns out it wasn’t really supposed to be on the schedule in the first place – the fancy beach-side hotel is just where the lucky bus-riders were put up for the weekend – where they’re cooling their heels as I write, in fact, on their Sunday “Day of Rest,” at the expense of some foolish GOP “independent expenditure.”
Day 6, Stop 4: Huntington Beach
So, I got to the good old HB pier early – my home town – with four or five other protesters, and my two freshly-made Spanish-language signs, “Nuestros valores no incluyen odio!” (Our values don’t include hate) and “Carly Fiorina no es tu amiga!” (You can figure that one out.) Dawn, who’d been involved in this longer than the rest of us, was in phone contact with the other Courage Campaigners. Evidently the hate bus was winding erratically up and down PCH, trying to evade its critics. After a while it finally dropped anchor at 6th Street and Main, 3/4 mile from its supposed destination, so we set off on foot to meet it.
By the time we got there, they were just pulling away, heading off back to their comfy hotel in Dana Point for an early start on their weekend of rest, having done all they could for Princess Carly, and utterly uninterested in making human contact with any Huntington Beach people critical or not. Windows closed as always, AC blasting, the bus looked exactly as pictured above. It may just as well have been manned by only a driver rather than the dozen Hispanics and several white NOM homophobes who were apparently hidden inside. But at least Carly and her backers are providing some lucrative temporary employment for these malinches.
And what scared the little group away from Surf City so quickly? It wasn’t so much the dozen or so pro-gay protesters, as it was a man named Don Fuller, a small, well-dressed, very articulate, “Conservative Republican” who had driven all the way from Corona just to ask these people how exactly the Constitution and Declaration of Independence justify denying equal rights to gays, and how they can possibly consider themselves conservative if they believe that. These were questions that they were completely, and mortifyingly, incapable of answering.
And that was it for the weekend. After a day of rest (actually, not at the Ritz Carlton as it turns out, but at the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa in Huntington Beach) the tour was on to present NOM’s valores today. And, surprise of all surprises, it will actually be NOM presenting them.
Brian Brown, president of NOM, and Jennifer Roback Morse, president of The Ruth Institute, a project of NOM’s Marriage Education Fund, will both be supporting the bus tour as it makes its way around California. Dr. Morse will be at the San Diego stops on Monday, October 4.
I suppose that since they aren’t engaging any Latinos, it doesn’t much matter if their speakers are non-Latino folk who don’t speak Spanish.
Day 7 Stop 1: Santa Ana
The Santa Ana stop had more Victory Outreach members (it now seems there is a bit of a partnership going on).
15 members of the Victory Outreach ministry were present, along with 14 pro-equality counter-protesters.
But in addition to a little campaign stop, NOM & crew also had a little bit of trouble. (Courage Campaign)
Our videographer, Anthony Ash, was just assaulted by a man associated with the Vota Tus Valores tour. The Vota Tus Valores bus stopped at 17th & Main in Santa Ana, in front of the James G. Roche law firm, which is where today’s rally location was held (more on the Roche law firm later). Anthony was wearing a press pass, holding a small Flipcam and walking next to the private parking lot towards the Vota Tus Valores Bus when approached by an older Latino man (seen below) who said that our Trackers were on private property.
The man, who claimed to be the owner of the property, angrily told Anthony that this was private property, and quickly struck Anthony in the arm, knocking the camera to the ground. Our tour camera has been damaged, and we’re not sure that footage can be recovered.
It turns out that Vota Tus Valores’ main spokesman, Alfonso Aguilar, has just joined the James G. Roche law firm. Actually, as best I can tell from their website, he’s the only person working for the James G. Roche law firm.
Day 7, Stop 2: Oceanside
After we completed the filing of the police complaint in Santa Ana, we were lucky to catch up with the Vota Bus in Oceanside at Camarillo Park. One non-Latino supporter of the Vota Bus was present as organizers didn’t even bother to pull out the sound equipment. It appeared as though organizers were merely taking a stretch break while talking to the man who was holding a small video camera.
Day 7, Stop 3: Escondido
In Escondido, six men from the Victory Outreach ministry were bused in, joined by two other supporters of the Vota Bus
And the star power was brought to full use.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse from the Ruth Institute was handed the microphone and gave a short speech on life and traditional marriage before handing out “one man, one women” bumper stickers to the small crowd.
Day 7, Stop 4: Rally in San Diego
This is scheduled to take place at 7:00 pm at Communidad Christiana Nam. I can hardly wait to hear about it.
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