(CBS/AP) MADISON, Wis. - After weeks of relative quiet following the bruising battle over an anti-union collective bargaining bill, the state Capitol was again the scene of protests and counter-protests.Here's a local, Madison report:
Hundreds of pro-union labor supporters are surrounding smaller groups of conservative Tea Party members attending a rally featuring former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Speaking at the tax day rally outside the Wisconsin Capitol, Palin called the crowd in Madison courageous for having stood up to "death threats and thug tactics" of those who opposed Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining bill.
"You held your ground, your governor did the right thing, and you won," she said.
Referring to herself as a former union member and the wife of a union member, Palin said, "He's not trying to hurt union members. Hey, folks, he's trying to save your jobs and your pensions!"
She said union leaders don't care if their members are laid off, in order to protect their own power.
She also criticized President Obama for his budget plans, including proposals to invest in "really fast trains and solar shingles."
Prior to her appearance, labor supporters still smarting from the passage of Walker's polarizing bill eliminating most public employees' collective bargaining rights drowned out Palin's supporters, shouting, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Scott Walker's got to go."
Here's the audio of her awful, screechy speech.
The tea party supporters were lined along the sidewalk in front of the podium, surrounded by small barriers, perhaps to keep the sounds of counter protesters out. Several thousand counter-protesters surrounded them, chanting "Recall Walker," blowing whistles and horns, beating drums and sometimes booing the speakers.
Even though they used a sound system, it was hard to hear everything the speakers were saying over the counter-chants. The acoustics were such that you could hear the speakers better from afar than you could up close.
Only the shrill Vicki Mckenna, talk show host WIBA, seemed to be able to cut through the chanting, when she told them: "Shut up." The crowd didn't listen. Andrew Breitbart was similarly annoyed and told the crowd, "you've been so rude, go to hell. You're trying to divide America."
Gabe Conroe, a 2001 UW-Madison graduate, made the trip all the way from his home in Chicago to protest Palin. "We wanted to show support for workers." He said the Tea Party "doesn't care about the poor or workers."
Jeff Kerwin of Madison, a union worker, says he was dumbfounded by why the tea party crowd was supporting "the corruption that's gone down in Waukesha County" over the election for state Supreme Court.
Aside from her curiosity about Palin, Taylor said she came out to show "Wisconsin is not a tea party state" and "we'll fight back."
As for what she makes of the tea party crowd, Taylor said, "It's important for citizens to be involved. I've always admired how peaceful we remain here despite the strong feelings on both sides."
When Palin finally took the state, around 1:30 p.m., the crowd erupted in a cacophony of cheers, boos, applause and angry chants.
I could hardly hear a word she said and probably wouldn't remember any of them anyways. But I'm sure I'll always remember the reception Madison gave her.
Gryph is covering this too.
So are Patrick and Kathleen at Politicalgates, who feel Palin all but announced a presidential candidacy. That's part of why I was checking out the speech too.
Hat tip to Politicalgates for the video:
And YouTubes showing how big the anti-Teabagger crowd was are starting to show up: