Last year, Steve King famously held an anti-immigrant rally in Richmond, Virginia where nobody came. This year, King — along with the outgoing Michele Bachmann and Ted Cruz — didn’t even try to keep up the pretense, announcing a rally against executive action but then downgrading it to a press conference.
As Mother Jones notes, Bachmmann and King tried hard with this rally. Since Obama announced his executive action for immigrants just before Thanksgiving, conservatives in Congress have been calling the move a literal “constitutional crisis,” and have been calling for a groundswell of support. From Mother Jones:
On November 20, minutes after President Barack Obama delivered a speech explaining his executive action on immigration reform that would protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) took to Fox News and called on tea partiers everywhere to come to Washington to protest.
Bachmann, the head of the House tea party caucus who is retiring from Congress in weeks, implored the audience to help her fight the “amnesty.” She urged them to “melt the phone lines” to congressional lawmakers. And she declared she would be leading a protest on Capitol Hill. “I’m calling on your viewers to come to DC on Wednesday, December 3, at high noon on the west steps of the Capitol,” she proclaimed. “We need to have a rally, and we need to go visit our senators and visit our congressman, because nothing frightens a congressman like the whites of his constituents’ eyes. … We need the viewers to come and help us.”
The next day, the Tea Party Patriots, one of the largest remaining tea party groups, sent out an urgent survey to its members. The email, signed by co-founder Jenny Beth Martin, said the group—which has worked closely with Bachmann in the past to organize other rallies at the Capitol—was trying to determine whether such a rally would be a good use of its resources. The email asked these “patriots” to indicate whether they would respond to Bachmann and come to Washington to protest the president’s actions on immigration. Apparently, the answer was no. The Tea Party Patriots did not sign up for this ride.
And so, forty people (including a number of reporters) showed up today, and organizers have only been referring to the event as a “press conference.” Some Tea Partiers today called for shutting down the government and impeaching Obama, while others described the President as an “illegal resident“, “criminal“, “Hitler“, “bitch“, and “bum“.
The event seems to be evidence for Dana Milbank’s column from yesterday on how “Obama has already won the immigration fight.” Executive action and the Tea Party anger against it is fresh — yet King and Bachmann were only able to turn out 40 people for their “high noon” rally. So why is it, again, that Speaker Boehner keeps allowing King and his cohorts to drive immigration policy in Congress? Why is he letting the demands of this clear minority keep the GOP from doing what it eventually must — pass real immigration reform legislation?