Elections

Santorum rally in Tacoma includes arrests, glitter bomb | PHOTOS

Republican presidential contender and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa) spoke at a rally Monday night in downtown Tacoma. - Greg Allmain/Federal Way Mirror
Republican presidential contender and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa) spoke at a rally Monday night in downtown Tacoma.
— image credit: Greg Allmain/Federal Way Mirror

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum made his way to a rally at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma on Feb. 13. Hundreds of supporters came out into the chilly night to cheer on the candidate who's seen the latest surge in the contentious GOP race.

Along with his supporters, Santorum also attracted members of Occupy Tacoma, Occupy Federal Way and proponents of gay equality to the rally. The raucous atmosphere made it difficult for the candidate to get his message out to supporters.

Outside of the Occupiers and gay equality contingents, the crowd was made up of mostly older Tacoma and Western Washington residents, perhaps evidenced best by the impromptu singing of "God Bless America" about five minutes before Santorum took the stage. Once there, those in support of the man from Pennsylvania let out a happy cheer and waited for the surging candidate to speak.

Santorum hit on much of his campaign messaging before he was "mic-checked" by the Occupy contingent in the crowd a number of times. The candidate took it in stride, but also took the time to chide those who dub themselves the "99 Percent."occupy

"What we see is an intolerance of different points of view," said the deeply religious Santorum. "From those who do not want the other side to have a voice. They don't want to hear what the other side has to say."

Outside of the Occupy mic-checks, there was one particularly vociferous man on the fringes of the crowd holding a sign with "Freedom from Religion" painted on its white facade. Throughout various parts of the speech, the man randomly yelled out "Obama!" — only to have another man quickly reply "Sucks!"

Sometime during the nearly hour-long speech, two to three Occupiers were arrested by Tacoma police for being disruptive. After the speech, it was circulating through the crowd that one arrestee had been hit with a stun gun, although no reports have surfaced on the authenticity of that claim. Also during Santorum's speech, his supporters began to chant "USA, USA, USA," which was met by a counter-chant from the gay equality group.

"Gay marriage is OK, gay marriage is OK, gay marriage is OK," they shouted back, on the day that Washington became the seventh state to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.

Somewhere along the way, Santorum was hit with a "glitter bomb," a favorite tactic of those who support the gay equality movement. Santorum handled his glitter bomb in stride, shaking hands with supporters, with pinkish-looking glitter plastered to his head, adding another touch of surreality to what had already proven to be an unusual rally.

Even with all of the disruptions and competing chants of supporters and opposition groups, Santorum made sure he took some shots at President Barack Obama.

"Barack Obama is trying to systematically divide this country," he said. "The greatness of our country is not our diversity. The greatness of our country is despite our diversity, we can come together."

MORE PHOTOS FROM THE RALLY:


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