Today, Rick Santorum came to Bryn Mawr's Barnes and Noble to promote his book It Takes A Family
. I assume Ion will make her own post at some point, but here are my thoughts. I'm going to try and report what I saw with as much detail as possible.
We got to the Barnes and Noble at 6:30, an hour before the event was to start. There were already protesters outside the store. (I'd say there were only ten to twenty at this point). We smiled at them and headed up into the Starbucks area to watch the protesters and
supporters as they entered the store. The Starbucks in B&N is located at this great spot: it’s against the front windows of the store on the second story. Because of its location, it provides a great spot for watching the front driveway and the road in front of the store.
Two men that I took to be Santorum supporters sat right near us in the Starbucks. They were dressed in suits and I heard one man say, "You see what's going outside?" He sounded amused. A little later, he leaned over our table to look outside and said to our friend, "It's not that
much worse ... or better," as he looked out over the protesters. By this time, I’d say there were around one hundred people outside protesting.
I'd like to describe some of the protesters. There were a great many women in aprons and skirts with signs mocking Santorum's stance on women and the home. Many women had their children with them. One woman had three or four baby dolls tied to her waist, there was a pillow under her shirt to imply pregnancy, and she had a sign that read, "Santorum's vision for women." I’d say the crowd was pretty equally split, gender-wise.
Other signs included:
- Kick Rick Out 2006
- I Love My Working Mom
- Rick 4 Sale
- No To Homophobia, Sexist, Elitism. No To Santorum.
- Honor Thy Working Mom
- College Isn't Wrong, You Are [this was held by a girl from my college]
- Sick of Rick
- A Woman's Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste
- Santorum's Family Values: Tobacco, Guns, and Man on Dog
There were many, many other great signs, but these above are the only ones I was able to write down.
Eventually, Santorum came into the building to the applause of his supporters. You know how you'll see someone on the TV or in magazines, and they won't be as impressive in real life? This wasn't the case for Santorum: he's a tall, handsome and imposing man. He was quite charming as well, and it was a neat experience to see his charisma at work.
After he was introduced, he spoke for about fifteen minutes. Ion was wearing a shirt with a front pocket, so I slipped our voice recorder into it and sent her into the midst of Santorum’s supporters. She got a pretty good spot. The recording is not perfect, but it's good. I tried to clean up some of the extra noise, but she was standing near a young boy who talked a few times. I'm sorry for that.Here's the link.
Santorum spoke first about the fatherlessness, and then he moved onto his big theme: community. He pushed his book as one of common sense, and he said it wasn't meant to be a controversial book. I wrote down a few quotes/paraphrases that I found interesting:
- "Running around doing whatever you want to do isn't freedom."
- He said that you can't lose/ignore history because "truth doesn't change."
- He spoke about true freedom coming with responsibility, not just to oneself, but to a community.
- One of his final statements was that the book wasn't about intolerance or hate. It was just common sense. I think this statement was the one that made me smile bitterly the most.
After he was finished speaking, he started the book signing, and Ion and I went outside to stand with the protesters. They kept starting up the chant, "Kick out Rick!" We got quite a few supportive honks from passing cars, and that was a good feeling.
We talked to a few people. Some of our fellow students from our college were there, and one promised to send photos. I will put them up here and credit them to her when she sends them. We made friends with a kind older woman who was carrying around a funny sign (which is shown below). She had been talking to one of Santorum's PR guys and bothering him. I liked her a lot.
Around 7:45, a woman came by asking if anyone would wear a dog suit. Ion agreed to do so, and she was supplied with a Scooby Doo outfit. Ion put it on (I promise pictures soon!), and then she held a sign reading, "Man on Dog
!" A man from a local Jewish paper took her picture and name, I saw a camera man taking footage of her, and she ended up talking to a lot of interesting people because of that suit. Ion also made friends with a little girl who was fascinated by the suit, but a little scared of it as well. The man who supplied the suit kept calling to Ion to turn around so people could get photos. Unfortunately, he hadn't caught her name, so he kept calling, "Man on dog!" to get her attention. I found this to be pretty funny.
The nice older woman I mentioned before made another sign, and she gave it to me. I wish I had caught her name. She looked like a sweet grandmother, and it was funny considering that THIS is the sign she made:
At this moment, it’s sitting at my right.
My parents arrived a little after eight thirty, so we left then. I had to call their cell phone so they would know where to find us, and I made my mom get my father to promise that he wouldn't flip anyone off (he ... occasionally does this to people he disagrees with). He agreed as long as I understood that he is and always will be a Republican. I think this is a positive step for us: we can respect and love each other despite this different opinion. It made me feel happy.
So this was how I saw the events. I will put up pictures soon.
Oh, one more thing: as I said, there were about 100 protesters. I saw one
man for Santorum. He simply held a sign that read, "Vote for Santorum." As we drove away with my parents, I saw him leaving, his sign hanging near the ground. It was getting dark, but the protesters were still outside B&N, shouting and laughing.