The Washington Times - August 6, 2009, 12:54PM

If right-wing protesters are going to show up and yell at their elected officials during town hall meetings, left-wing activists need to start coordinating with those representatives to provide “cover” for them says a 4-page memo distributed by Health Care for America Now!, a group supporting President Obama’s recommended plans.

Conservative groups who help mobilize like-minded people to oppose the legislation have outraged Democrats, left-leaning think tanks and blogs, in light their success in spurring contentious town hall meetings that have been filmed an uploaded to the Internet. Much to their chargrin, video clips of conservative activists in Pennsylvania and Texas chanting and booing their elected officials have become a symbol of public angst over President Obama’s agenda.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has even accused conservative organizations of distributing “rent-a-mob instructions” on how to protest the President’s health care reform plans. As evidence she pointed to a mailer from group called Right Principles.


To help push back HCAN, whose members include the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now! AFL-CIO, the SEIU, the NEA and National Council of La Raza, has some instructions of their own. The memo, emailed to HCAN’s 120 field staffers in 44 different states on Aug. 4, encourages activists to contact elected officials before public events to plan ways to preempt the opposition.

“Ask the Member’s staff what would be most helpful and talk through a strategy for making sure the right messages don’t get drowned out by chaotic protesters,” wrote Field Director Margarida Jorge. The memo’s introduction says she has “years of union organizing experience” and has “laid out tactics for people attending town halls to follow to blunt the right.”

Another one of Ms. Jorge’s tips is to “Address the MOC directly with a positive message: Remember, these Members need cover and they are getting beaten up by right wing zealots in these meetings.”

HCAN Communications Director Jacki Schechner said protecting elected officials who support their favored reforms was necessary given the contentious nature of some town hall meetings

“People are trying to bait them [elected officials] into having something so they can get yelled at and they don’t want to feel unsafe and uncomfortable,” Ms. Schechner said. “They don’t want to put themselves out to be bait for pushing and shoving, that’s not dignified discourse.”