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Occupy OKC "mic checks" Santorum; melee ensues

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
Conservative leaders including the Rev. Steve Kern and State Reps. Sally Kern and Mike Reynolds pray over Rick Santorum following his campaign speech.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – It was right after the words “mic check”
were uttered by Occupy OKC ringleader Jay Fox, that things got really
interesting in the crowd listening to a campaign speech by Republican
presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

“Racist, sexist, anti-gay, zealot, fascist, go away!”

“Get your hate, out of my state!”

“Pro-life, pro-war, what are you fighting for?”

This and other chants aimed at Santorum were yelled at the
candidate as he tried to speak over the din.

It didn’t take long for both male and female Santorum
supporters to get in the faces of Fox and other Occupiers and yell at them for
being “intolerant.” And one man, gripping a Santorum sign and wearing a cap with
an image of the state of Oklahoma covered with a Christian cross, was
particularly angry and yelling and was in the thick of the violent scuffle between Occupiers and
the pro-Santorum faction.

The Occupiers responded by saying the actions of the Santorum folks wasn't very Christ-like.

The Santorum folks had it and Fox was taken down quite forcefully. A
little startled and with a scratch on
his face, Fox got up. He continued chanting with the others while a flustered Santorum
continued to try and give his message while noting the “intolerance” of the
Left. When Red Dirt Report saw Fox make his way to the front of the crowd holding a Santorum sign, we suspected an encounter would occur - and it did.

“Listen to him first and then make your point,” a man said,
inches from the face of a chanting female Occupier who was holding her fist in the
air. Several men tried to push Santorum campaign signs in the faces of the
protesters in hopes of muffling their loud voices. Several signs were torn up
in the process and were trampled under foot.

It was clear that the protesters were grating on the
Santorum supporters who were soon countering the Occupiers by chanting, “We
pick Rick! We pick Rick!”

Occupiers changed their chant to “Rick is a trick!” “Rick is
a trick!” before claiming “Wall Street pays for your campaign!”

It was borderline mayhem there in the middle of the crowd as
TV cameras and print journalists – and Red
Dirt Report
– watched it unfold. Later, Red
Dirt Report
would get to interview Santorum as he left the area of the State Capitol, where the campaign rally was held.

But before long the Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers pushed
their way through the crowd and convinced the Occupy OKC protesters to leave
the premises, which they did.

And that was just a part of the interesting nature of this
campaign Oklahoma campaign stop, the second for Santorum. He is looking for a victory here on Super Tuesday. Considering the nice weather and it being a Sunday afternoon, Red Dirt Report had expected more people to be at the rally.

Throughout the crowd, there was a lot of talk about the
Bible and about Christian beliefs. Ironically, against all the “God talk,” the
blues-rock band playing loudly on the portico and providing the pre-event entertainment
kicked out a rockin’ cover of Stevie Wonder’s hit “Superstition.”

Scattered throughout the crowd, numbering in the hundreds,
volunteers handed out Santorum campaign yard signs to any and all takers.

At the Rick Santorum campaign table, Guthrie native Josh
Wiggins said there had been a lot of interest in Oklahoma in the senator’s
presidential campaign.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Wiggins said. “Really the first time
I’ve been involved with something like this.”

Back in the crowd, tensions were rising between those
supportive of Santorum and those who did not agree with the candidate’s
socially-conservative message.

A man and a woman, neither of whom we were able to identify,
were arguing with pro-Santorum folks who disagreed with the woman’s protest
sign criticized Santorum’s meager charitable giving. It read: “Rick Santorum:
2010 Income $923,411, 2010 Charity, $16,252 – 1 %”

Another man, Oklahoma City resident Manny Whitlock, was also
in the midst of a heated discussion with two Santorum-sign-holding men who
disagreed with Whitlock’s pro-same-sex marriage position.

“Are gay people getting married in Oklahoma?” Whitlock asked
the men.

The men said they were not, but that it wasn’t an issue
here, it was a state-by-state issue.

Whitlock and the men continued their back-and-forth argument
on gay marriage.

“Marriage is a God-given right,” said Whitlock.

“Yeah, between a man and woman,” shot back a young man with
a shaved head and sunglasses.

“I believe between a man and a man, if they want,” responded
Whitlock.

When Red Dirt Report
talked to Whitlock, he said he wanted to see if these purported
Constitution-loving conservatives really supported true freedom.

“Rick Santorum is gearing his message towards these people,”
Whitlock said, referring to socially conservative voters.

“At the Ron Paul
event not one person said a negative word to me,” Whitlock said.

Speaking of which, Ron Paul supporters like Oklahoma City
residents Josh and Sydney Herren made their quiet presence known by holding
signs reading “Revolution 2012 Ron Paul,” with an emphasis on “evol,” meaning “love”
backwards. There was no obvious presence by supporters of Newt Gingrich, Mitt
Romney or Barack Obama.

And while Whitlock’s encounter was nothing like the later
action by members of Occupy OKC, who were eventually escorted from the premises
by troopers with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

OHP Trooper Gannon would later tell Red Dirt Report that Occupy OKC ringleader Jay Fox, who appeared to
have been injured in the aforementioned scuffle with angry Santorum supporters,
complained that she and the other troopers didn’t do their job by going after those who attacked him.

Back in the crowd, Red
Dirt Report
talked to folks who were obviously fans of Santorum. One man, Oklahoma
City resident Steve Malinowski, held up a Santorum campaign sign and a picture
of Santorum’s smiling face.

Asked why he chose to support Santorum, Malinowski said, “It’s
very simple. Romney’s Mormon and Mormonism’s definition of what Jesus Christ is
is not the same as what Christians believe.”

To prove his point, Malinowski pulled out a well-worn tract
from Christian Equippers International “of Lake Tahoe” which explained the
differences between Christianity and Mormonism. With Santorum, he said, he “is
Catholic and they believe Jesus is the Son of God.”

Newt Gingrich, of course, is a Catholic, but Malinowski said
he is “a renegade” and that Ron Paul, a Baptist, “says crazy things” and
believes it is okay if Islamic terrorists “strap on a bomb and send it over
here.” It was clear that religious issues were this supporter's key concern.

Malinowski emphasized his concerns about Islam and Sharia
law and that “the president is Islamic and they have a right to lie. They are compelled
to export it and make it grow.” But with Santorum, he said, if he becomes
president he will emphasize that “Israel and the U.S. should be one.”

And working the crowd with two boards full of Santorum
campaign buttons, among others, entrepreneur Michael Goodart of Springfield,
Mo. told Red Dirt Report that sales
were steady and that he was “doing all right.”

Running about 20 minutes late, Santorum eventually showed
up, following a prayer by the Rev. Steve Kern and an introduction from State
Rep. Mike Reynolds (R-Oklahoma City) where he said Santorum was “truthful” and
equally concerned about “radical Islam” and that everyone needed to vote for
Santorum this Tuesday.

“There are many great leaders in our history,” Reynolds
said. “The greatest is our Lord Jesus Christ.” He then went on to say of all
current leaders “the one we can trust is Rick Santorum.”

“You can count on him to have the courage of his convictions,”
added Reynolds, before introducing Santorum to the cheering crowd.

And Santorum went through his speech covering all manner of
issues.

Once Occupy OKC was kicked out, he joked with the crowd that
these are the sort of people “who believe CO2 is a toxin,” adding, “Tell that to
a plant.”

Talking about how “ObamaCare” is wrong and that one of his
top actions if he is elected would be to repeal it. A the sound of “ObamaCare,
a woman nearby sneered, “ObamaCare is a racist term.”

Playing into Mike Reynolds’ early speech touting Santorum’s
truthful nature, Santorum himself said “People of America are going to believe
me because I’ve never been for anything like ObamaCare.”

Regarding the loss of manufacturing jobs in small-town
America, where whole towns in the Heartland are disappearing, Santorum said, he is the candidate who can turn that trend around and get America working again. Under Obama that won't happen, he said.

“We want these jobs back in America,” Santorum said to
cheers.

Regarding energy policy, which he said Obama is doing little
to improve at the present time, Santorum said, “We need to reduce dependency on
foreign oil.”

Santorum's comments supporting the Keystone pipeline also got a big cheer from his Oklahoma audience.

The candidate, surrounded by his wife Karen and three of his
children, continued and said it is key to get America’s energy policy back on
track where domestic energy policy is a key focus and drilling is done
offshore, on federal lands and even in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in
Alaska.

At this point, Santorum, known for gee-whiz sweater vests
and a certain level of know-it-all sanctimony, steered his speech into territory
that embraced an idealized, Rockwellian, Mayberry-styled, American past built upon
“family, school, church, businesses …” and when you “get in trouble you’ve got
a mom and dad there to help.”

Santorum said he recognized what a problem it was to have so
many children being born out of wedlock and how welfare dependency is a fast
route to the vicious cycle of poverty.

“Dependency is not a way of life,” Santorum said firmly as
the crowd cheered and applauded.

“A lot of people in America today are paddling alone … they
are going down the river and hit some rapids,” Santorum said, using a
rough-river analogy. “And they reach for government.”

Talking about the liberal Brookings Institute report that
said “work” was the fastest way to get out of poverty.

With leading Republican competitor Mitt Romney, Santorum
said that the only reason the former Massachusetts governor is doing so well is
because he simply outspends everyone. In states where he doesn’t take that
tack, another candidate usually succeeds. As it stands, Santorum is polling
ahead of Romney, Gingrich and Paul here in Oklahoma, according to
SoonerPoll.com.

“America is in a very, very perilous state,” warned
Santorum, but added it’s at a point in its history where it is faced with great
opportunity.

He went on to congratulate Oklahoma for being the reddest
state in the nature and went on to say, “You are the conservative lodestar here
in Oklahoma.”

Before leaving the stage, Santorum said that he is looking to
do well in Mississippi and Alabama and that wins there will mean he can “turn
around” the outcome and head towards being the Republican nominee.

Once Santorum completed his speech, Red Dirt Report, Capitol Beat OK’s Pat McGuigan and The Oklahoman’s Michael McNutt got
permission from the Secret Service to walk along with Santorum as he made his
way to his waiting SUV.

Santorum told the three reporters, including your Red Dirt
Reporter, that the Occupy protests are simply a part of what happens when you
give a public speech in America today. He said he ran into a similar protest
recently in Tacoma, Washington and recalled a rather heated encounter with
protesters during a speech he gave in Norman, Okla. six years earlier.

“They were very hostile,” Santorum said. “I didn’t expect that
in Oklahoma.”

Admitting that he is being outspent here in Oklahoma, he
said he still feels good about Super Tuesday here in the Sooner State and in
Tennessee and North Dakota.

Santorum addressed issues involving delegates and what he
would look for in a vice-presidential candidate. He was very friendly and
cordial but looked a bit tired.

Santorum then shook a few hands, said his good-byes, and
hopped into a black SUV. Next on his itinerary was a campaign stop at a church
in Tulsa.

UPDATE* (4:48 a.m. March 5, 2012)

Copyright 2012 West
Marie Media

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Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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