Several Republican candidates showed up at Saturday’s rally against the Democratic health care reform plan.
Karen Handel, Eric Johnson, and John Oxendine, all rivals for governor, addressed the crowd and acquired prominent space for their banners.
But the most significant local political figure to be handed a microphone may have been Ralph Reed, making what I believe was his first speech to a large and public audience in metro Atlanta since his 2006 defeat in the primary for lieutenant governor.
Reed spoke in his capacity as founder and chairman of the new Faith and Freedom Coalition. His was a red-meat message.
“Our right to protest has been purchased with the blood of patriots who paid the ultimate price so that we could be free men and women and have the ability to petition our government. We will not be intimidated, we will not be silenced, and we will not go away,” the former state GOP chairman said.
One of the many sponsors of the Centennial Olympic Park event was Americans For Prosperity, a national anti-tax group headed by Tim Philips — who was once part of Reed’s Duluth firm, Century Strategies.
(Exactly who is footing the cost for the Saturday event remains unclear. A spokeswoman for the Georgia World Congress Center said the $11,500 bill for rental of the north half of Centennial Park will be sent to Allen Hardage, a conservative Christian political strategist in Dallas, Ga.)
You’ll recall that, only a year ago, Reed stirred a small August tempest when he sent out e-mail messages inviting locals to a fund-raiser for then Republican presidential nominee John McCain.
The incident sent many reporters to the clip file marked “Irony.” McCain, as chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, was the one whose investigation documented the relationship between Reed and now-jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Reed didn’t attend the McCain event.
But the health care debate, the Sotomayor hearings, and a new organization seem to have given Reed a pathway back to prominence.
Reed’s Web site now advertises a “freedom rally” at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Atlanta Marriott Gwinnett Place, with Sean Hannity. The Fox News commentator has a “freedom concert” next door at the Gwinnett Arena that same night, featuring the Charlie Daniels band.
While you ponder that, consider these items found while perusing this morning’s ajc.com:
As many as one-third of Georgia’s 300 banks are under scrutiny. Lake Allatoona may be next battle in water war. Perdue to brief candidates for governor on water crisis. Obama backs away from public health insurance plan. Health care rallies attract lively crowds. Report: City of Atlanta must cut pensions. A profile of Atlanta mayoral candidate Lisa Borders. Retired ATL judges may be asked to fill in on city courts.
Your Luckovich fix. Cynthia Tucker wonders why we can’t discuss dying with dignity. Kyle Wingfield on a pared-down solution for Georgia. Bob Barr on the consequences of opinion-oriented TV news.
From elsewhere in Georgia:
Augusta Chronicle: Water wars: Atlanta ’s loss might be felt across state. Stateline.org: States plug budget holes, for now. Henry Daily Herald: State Rep. Celeste Johnson (D-Jonesboro) resigns.
WP: Behind the dumping of a four-star general in Afghanistan. NYT: How military women are living and fighting alongside men, and fitting in. WSJ: North Korea to let reunions resume.
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