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GOP callers overwhelm City Hall lines

Published August 29, 2006 12:25 am

Extra help hired: More than 300 people responded to Republican ads urging them to tell the SLC mayor his protest is 'embarrassing'
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Offended by Rocky Anderson's plans to protest President Bush this week, the Utah Republican Party is waging a public-relations campaign urging Utahns to call the mayor and tell him to "stop embarrassing" the state.

And while Utahns have listened - flooding City Hall with almost 300 calls and overwhelming the phone system - Anderson hasn't.



Salt Lake City's mayor isn't altering his protest plans. "Given the nastiness of some of these people, it actually just bolsters my resolve," said Anderson, who previously alleged that the "real embarrassment" is Utahns' unwavering support of Bush.

The GOP acknowledged that its push, sending out thousands of voice-mail messages to Republicans and running ads on about 20 radio stations around the state, wouldn't change Anderson's mind.

"This is all about letting the rest of Utah have a voice to counter his voice," said Utah Republican Party Executive Director Jeff Hartley. "We want to make sure the rest of Utah at least lets him know they disagree with his behavior. It may not change his behavior, but he will at least know he doesn't get a free pass when he embarrasses the state."

Hartley said party headquarters and Republican elected officials have received "dozens" of calls from people upset that Anderson, a Democrat, is speaking at the protest and invited Cindy Sheehan to join him. Since Sheehan's son died in Iraq in 2004, she has become a national face of the anti-war movement.

Ads started running Monday with heavy play in Utah's rural counties, where residents are "hopping mad this man is representing our state to the world," Hartley said.

City Hall was inundated with calls Monday and hired three temporary workers to handle them.

The city won't ask the Republican Party to pick up the $144 tab for the temps and the $1,000 extra cost to the phone system.

"It's part of the democratic process," Anderson said. "It's part of being responsive."

And the GOP won't offer to pay. Hartley was glad to hear about the volume of calls to tell the mayor "he's gone too far off the reservation of sanity."

"He's using the people of Utah and using his position as mayor to draw national attention to himself. It's clear he wants to be a national figure. It's clear he's using his office to get there."

Anderson announced last month he wouldn't seek a third term as mayor. He said the protest has "nothing" to do with his future plans. "These people are so deluded. They make this stuff up as they go along."

The GOP radio ad intones that the threat to the United States by terrorists is real, "and the choice is clear. Do we do whatever it takes to win the war on terror? Or do we embolden the terrorists with a cut-and-run strategy? Mayor Rocky Anderson has made his decision. He's invited professional protester Cindy Sheehan to Utah to convince you that America should retreat."

The message seems to bolster a poll commissioned by The Salt Lake Tribune that shows 45 percent of Utahns believe anti-war demonstrators such as Anderson and Sheehan "aid the enemies of the U.S." Some 27 percent say they "play an important role in the national debate over U.S. policy in Iraq." Another 28 percent weren't sure. The poll of 625 registered voters was conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based Mason-Dixon Polling & Research firm this month.

"Part of what undermines our strength is our enemies thinking we have weakness within our ranks," Hartley said. "If they can pressure us to cut and run and give up the fight . . . if politicians like Rocky Anderson prevail, then we'll give up and quit."

The ad also questions if Anderson shares Sheehan's "anti-American" views, alleging she called terrorists "freedom fighters" and America the "largest terrorist organization in the world."

A LexisNexis search of major newspapers found references to such comments only in letters to the editor or editorial columns, save a paraphrase from a London paper. However, Sheehan has been quoted in The Seattle Times describing Bush as a "bigger terrorist than Osama bin Laden."

Anderson said he believes troops should leave the "tragic, unjustified war . . . as soon as possible."

As for the idea that he is abetting terrorists, he added "that characterization is despicable. I do what I do out of love for this nation and the values on which this nation was founded."

hmay@sltrib.com

Today's events :American Legion convention, Salt Palace Convention Center, 100 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City

10 a.m.: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld speaks. (KUTV Channel 2, KSTU Channel 13, KSL Channel 5 and KCPW Radio will carry the speech live. KSL Radio hadn't confirmed Monday if it would be able to carry the speech.)

10:50 a.m.: Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., Sen. Bob Bennett, Reps. Jim Matheson and Rob Bishop, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon offer remarks.

12:10 p.m.: Legion national commander makes presentation to Sen. Orrin Hatch.

1:15 p.m.: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks to convention. (KUTV Channel 2, KSTU Channel 13, KSL Channel 5 and KCPW Radio will carry the speech live. KSL Radio hadn't confirmed Monday if it would be able to carry the speech.)

Note: Convention events are open only to Legion members and credentialed media.

 

 

 

 

 

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