Americans for Prosperity bring anti-Obama crusade to Nebraska
Story and photos by Kayla Stauffer, NewsNetNebraska
The coach bus that pulled into Fremont, Neb. Thursday was hard to miss.
It was turquoise-green and had President Barack Obama’s face on the side of it – not to mention the words “Obama’s Failing Agenda” scrawled in white capital letters. According to a press release, the bus is part of a nation-wide tour sponsored by the free-market organization Americans for Prosperity.
“We believe in limited government,” said Brad Stevens, the Nebraska State Director for Americans for Prosperity, to the crowd of nearly 50 gathered beneath the trees of John C. Fremont Park.
Some in the audience nodded their heads in approval, while others munched on their Jimmy John’s sandwiches that had been handed out moments before.
“That’s what we believe,” Stevens said, “and that’s why we’re here. We want to arm you with information not only so that you feel informed, but so that you can share these policies with your friends and family. People around the country need to know about this.”
According to Stevens, the tour is intended to put grassroots pressure on the president and to stop excessive government spending. Political affiliation, he said, had little to do with it. “If your loyalty lies with a party, you’re going to be disappointed.” Stevens said.
Group spends millions attacking Obama
According to a report by the Huffington Post, Americans for Prosperity has already spent $15 million on ads attacking Obama and will launch a $25 million ad campaign to support GOP nominee Mitt Romney this week. New Yorker magazine lists billionaire industrialist David Koch as founder of Americans for Prosperity. According to the New Yorker, “In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular.”
Jim Rogers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party, believes the tour to be ineffective. “We really haven’t heard much about it here,” he said, “so it doesn’t seem to be the most effective way of rallying up support.” Rogers said there are better ways to mobilize communities, such as going door-to-door. “But if they want to ride around on a bus and waste time, that’s all the more merry for them,” he said.
Stevens disagrees. Community support has been evident in Nebraska, he said, and the tour’s stops in South Sioux City, Norfolk, Columbus, and now Fremont have all had encouraging turnouts. In regards to the organization’s political leanings, Stevens replied, “We’re opposed to spending, whether it’s by a Republican or a Democrat.”
Don’t dismiss opinions
Nebraska state Sen. Tony Fulton had a similar message. He was the second speaker at the rally in Fremont and told the crowd never to dismiss the opinions of others. “I will admit,” Fulton said, “that sometimes when liberals are talking, I’ll discount what they’re saying. I’ll think, ‘Oh, he’s a liberal or she’s a liberal.’”
He paused and shifted his weight in the park’s dewy grass. “We shouldn’t do that. We should all be wise enough to swing the telescope around and look at our own argument.” Fulton focused his speech on the Nebraska Senate race between Democrat Bob Kerrey and Republican Deb Fischer, as well as unemployment.
“40,000 Nebraskans are without a job,” Fulton said, “and it’s because of a lack of leadership. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.” Fulton, who claimed he was for “the little guy,” said change is needed in the White House for the country’s economy to get better.
“We need to open our eyes. What we’re doing right now isn’t good for the country. It’s not good for the poor. It’s not good for our children. We need to do something about it.”
After the rally, the crowd was encouraged to make “freedom phone calls,” hand out fliers and sign a petition to tell Obama that the country needs a new direction. “Whether Obama wins or Obama loses, these policies have to change,” Stevens said.