Tea Party Patriots and Dump Dodd enthusiasts came to protest President Obama’s pit stop Friday for U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd at the Stamford Hilton. Expected to turn out in the thousands, they numbered about 200.
Expected to put on a loud, lively show like they did in Hartford and Bridgeport in September, they were more subdued in Friday’s rainy, windy weather.
Gathered on Greenwich Avenue just down the hill from the hotel, people from across Connecticut came to protest Dodd’s re-election bid. They were met by a slightly bigger crowd of Dodd supporters. However, the real topic du jour was health-care reform.
“I wanted them (Obama and Dodd) to hear our voice,” said Kristin Ingram of Windsor. Asked what she wanted them to hear, she said “they need to go back to the Constitution and give us our liberties back.” She and her fellow demonstrators are part of the loosely affiliated grassroots group, Hartford Tea Party Patriots.
Ingram said she’s against government taking over health care, which is what she believes to be the Democrats’ agenda. And she said she agrees with corporate insurers that folks with medical problems should pay more for their coverage.
“I’m against the redistribution of wealth,” said Cathy Grippi of Wilton. “I’m against it because it’s not the American way. Capitalism is the American way.”
Across the street were members of Health Care for America Now, Organizing for America, and labor groups. John Murphy, lead organizer for HCAN’s Connecticut operation, and Rich Sivel, health-care organizer for Council 4, AFSCME, stood together in support of Dodd and a government-run public insurance option.
“I’m glad they’re (tea partiers) here, because they’ve made Dodd a better legislator,” Murphy said. “The more they act up, the better (Dodd) gets.”
Elsa Peterson Obuchowski of Norwalk stood with the two men. She had a personal reason to be there—her late husband.
While he laid in a hospital bed dying of a rare form of cancer, Obuchowski said her husband’s health insurer, United Health Care, was the boss of what treatments he would and wouldn’t get. According to Obuchowski, those choices were made for her husband regardless of medical need.
“There were fights in the hospital every day about whether he could stay. All the doctors have their hands tied, day in and day out, because the nurse case manager (at the hospital) has to constantly negotiate with the insurers about what each patient is allowed,” she said.
A week before he died, Obuchowski said, United Health won. She said her husband had to leave the hospital despite being too sick to go home. The next day, she said, he was sent back to die.
“His health was compromised in many ways because of his insurance,” Obuchowski said Friday afternoon as it began to rain on the demonstrators. “What I have learned from all this is (the importance of) having Medicare for everyone.”