Busting John McCain from Now Until November

Election '08
Note: The following is an account by Medea Benjamin of Codepink's first of many busts of McCain's campaign.

Tuesday, June 9 was a good day for our “Busting McCain” campaign. When we heard that he was going to be speaking at Washington’s Grand Hyatt Hotel for the National Federation of Independent Business’ Summit, we started planning an “inside/outside” action with a Greeting Committee outside the hotel and in the lobby, a PINK SLIP banner drop in hotel atrium, a PINK Send Off and three brave Codepinkers who BUSTED McCain during his speech!

We won’t give away our secret about how we got inside passes to a closed meeting. That’s part of the Codepink lore. But we did indeed get four passes. Three of the people—all women—made it through security and into the room with no problem. Tighe Barry got booted out (his ponytail was probably a giveaway). Jes Richardson got in as press, and so did I—for about 5 minutes. Once they recognized me and threw me out, they kicked Jes out, too.

Meanwhile, outside the hotel, our intern Lorena Schmidt donned a pink wig and greeted passer-bys with flyers and our McCain song to the tune of classic Beach Boy song Barbara Ann—the very song McCain parodied when he sang “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran...” Lorena, of course, sang Don't bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran,” with verses like “McCain, you are insane, you’ll wipe out a generation if you get to bomb the nation of Iran." Most people were amused and found it a great way to protest.

At about 9:00am Lorena, Jes and I greeted McCain as he came in the building with "Senator McCain, we want to stop the war and bring the troops home! Senator McCain, don't attack Iran--please!" As he went down the escalator, he waved and smiled to us. Little did he know that there were Codepink women waiting inside the ballroom for him!

Three Codepinkers, dressed like businesspeople (no pink!) and sporting McCain campaign buttons, got inside the ballroom in time for a lovely breakfast. When McCain starting speaking to the business association, Gael Murphy cried out, "War is bad for small business! Attacking Iran will only make things worse! We are spending 5,000 dollars per second, 12 billion dollars per month! Imagine the investments in small business we could make with that money instead of killing people and illegally occupying other countries.”

Soon after Murphy was “escorted” out of the room, it was Alicia Forrest’s turn. McCain insisted he was going to help grow the economy, so Alicia yelled out, “Mr. McCain, how do you expect to do that with 100 years of war?” She hung on tight to the doors as they pulled her out, shouting "No War! No McCain!" This was covered in boos from the McCain supporters, but still the point was made.

The last to speak out was Barbara Briggs-Letson, who was visiting the Codepink house from Sebastopol. Barbara got up and asked how McCain could support spending $11 million an hour on war. She, too, was quickly escorted out. We all cheered when we were watching Lou Dobbs on CNN in the evening and saw Barbara on TV as she was leaving the room!!!

Meanwhile, on the 6th floor of the hotel, facing the huge atrium, Tighe Barry and Julie Allen were waiting to drop a huge 40-foot pink slip saying “McCain=Bush: Endless War.” As soon as they dropped it, other Codepinkers in the lobby chanted “Say No to Endless War” and "Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation." The security guards scurried up to confront them and force them to take it down.

Our last encounter of the day came when McCain was on his way out, where we got right up to him . We even ran after him in his car, as he smiled and waved to us, and then ran to talk to the press entourage as the mounted their McCain Straight Talk Express bus.

For our finale, Tighe drove up to the hotel entrance with our beautiful black and pink pick-up truck decked out with signs saying "Don't Buy Bush's War" and "Congress, Don't Fund War!" Megaphones out the window, we sped away entertaining and educating the good people of DC about the threat of McBush.

All in all, it was a great day for the McCain Busters!

AlterNet is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed by its writers are their own.

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