Tales from the Trail

The 99 percent comes out to protest Romney in Seattle

Republican Mitt Romney has rarely faced a critical mass of protesters during his months-long campaign for the White House. But then, he doesn’t often visit the Left Coast. And protesters were out in force in Seattle on Thursday night when Romney held a fundraiser at a civic center in Bellevue, Washington, near Seattle, attended by the local political establishment and well-heeled locals.

The complex holding the event also contained the upscale “Shops at the Bravern” mall. After the event fund-raisers could have slipped out to pick up a few items at Hermes, Louis Vuitton or Jimmy Choo.

About 100 protesters turned up for a spirited but peaceful demonstration with signs, props and inventive chants, including some of those who have participated in the Occupy Wall Street movement. A cardboard cutout of the candidate was on the scene, holding a sign that said “Of the 1 percent, by the 1 percent, for the 1 percent.” Various protesters were dressed as buildings to illustrate Romney’s “corporations are people” meme.

Among the chants were “hey you millionaire – pay your fair share,” and “Mitt says cut back – we say fight back!” Jeanette Wenzel of Seattle held a sign that said, “if money is speech, speech isn’t free.” Other signs said “Mitts off our future” and “Money Talks; Supreme Court says so.”

“He’s having a fundraiser for some of the richest people in the country. And if he was elected he would do their bidding,” Sandra VanderVen, 44, a community organizer from Seattle, said of Romney. “It would be by and for the one percent.”

Romney quizzed by Occupy protesters at N.H. town hall meeting

Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney got off to an awkward start back in New Hampshire on Wednesday when the first question he took at a town hall meeting was from an Occupy protester.

Fresh off his narrow win in Iowa, Romney was making his first campaign appearance ahead of the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 10 when the questioner – who said he was from both the Occupy New Hampshire and Occupy Boston protest groups against economic inequality – raised his hand and asked a question about corporate greed.

“You have said that corporations are people, but in the last two years corporate profits have surged to record highs directly at the expense of wages,” the man said. “It seems that the U.S. is a great place to be a corporation, but increasingly a desperate place to live and work.”

Occupy New Hampshire Primary

Two Occupy protesters braved freezing temperatures in Laconia, New Hampshire, on Thursday to stand silently outside a Rotary lunch meeting where Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman made his 130th campaign appearance in the state. They held a sign that read “Occupy NH Primary” and also a large mock ballot with a tick next to a “We the People” option instead of the Republican or Democrat options.

While it’s not clear what role protesters plan to play in the 2012 U.S. elections, they are already making themselves heard. Occupy protesters have interrupted campaign speeches by President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. They have also targeted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as he campaigned for Mitt Romney, the current frontrunner in the Republican White House race.

Protesters in the national movement, which grew from an initial Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York City on Sept. 17, are upset that billions of dollars in bailouts were given to banks while “average” Americans are still suffering financially, and accuse politicians of being swayed by large campaign donations from big businesses.

Some ‘Occupy DC’ protestors not happy with Obama either

By Lily Kuo

Protestors in the Washington arm of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement have another message for the 1 percent: Listen up, President Obama.

Several Republican presidential candidates have criticized the movement as anti-American, divisive, and “in search of scapegoats.” But many members of what has become known as Occupy DC are not warming up to the Democratic president either, a fact that could frustrate what analysts say are Obama’s hopes to co-opt a burgeoning movement representing average Americans.

“[Obama and Biden] may be making a bet that this thing will get real traction among the middle class and young people, who have largely checked out of politics,” said Paul Light, a political science professor at New York University.