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Moderates, true to their name, proved hard to rile at a rally Saturday in Salt Lake City.
Hundreds of people turned out at downtown's Library Square to support the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, D.C., hosted by comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
Salt Lake City police estimate about 350 people gathered around TV monitors and sound systems to watch live coverage of the rally. Some held signs with witty slogans like "I'm moderately irked, and I'm not going to scream about it" or "A well-reasoned argument won't fit on this sign." Most sipped coffee or hot chocolate and talked with friends while watching, laughing often at Stewart's and Colbert's antics.
There was no yelling, no politicians whipping the crowd into a frenzy though Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Corroon did stop by and no particular agenda.
"Lighten up, let's get reasonable," said Jenny Pathak, one of the event's organizers.
Children in Halloween costumes outnumbered patriots in tricorn hats, of which only one was on display. Jim Catano, of Salt Lake City, dressed in breaches and buckled shoes and carried a 13-star American flag to provide an alternative voice to the conservative media.
"We've got a lot of people espousing very narrow ideas and claiming to be patriots," Catano said. "A true patriot is someone who defends the constitutional rights of all people."
Dan and Kaye Donahoe came down from Davis County to support Stewart's plea for respectful discourse.
"We think there should be more civility and respect in American politics," Dan Donahoe said.
His wife, Kaye, had always believed herself to be a moderate Republican, even working on campaigns and for lawmakers in Texas. She has since left the party, and feels that both ends of the political spectrum are too extreme.
Though the sanity rally was more subdued than the average tea party affair, patriotism ran high. Hands covered hearts and the crowd turned to the flag atop Salt Lake City Hall while listening to the Four Troops sing "The Star-Spangled Banner." Dozens of families lined up to have photos taken with a World War II veteran holding a sign that read "I fought Nazis, and they don't look like Obama."
The goal is to take the country forward, not back, Pathak said. Stewart's final message of abandoning hateful rhetoric won huge applause from the crowd, and while no future rallies are planned, Pathak hopes each participant will go boldly, moderately forward, restoring sanity to the state and the nation.
Watch the rally
O Clips from Saturday's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, in Washington, D.C., are available at http://www.comedycentral.com.