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August 1, 2014

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election 2012:

Heller supporters disrupt Berkley’s news conference in Reno

Image

Steve Marcus

U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., holds a news conference in the parking lot of Palo Verde High School before a rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan at the school, Aug. 14, 2012. Berkley is running for U.S. Senate against Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

Berkley News Conference

U.S. Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) holds a  news conference in the parking lot of Palo Verde High School before a rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan at the school Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012. Berkley is running for U.S. Senate against Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV). Heller supporters hold up signs in the background. Launch slideshow »

The idea seemed good to Democrat Shelley Berkley’s campaign at the time: Hold a news conference in front of the Social Security building in Reno to hammer home the accusation that Republican Dean Heller wants to end Medicare and privatize Social Security.

Unfortunately for Berkley, all manner of obstacles from angry security guards to the Heller campaign and even Mother Nature conspired to block that message from getting through.

Although it’s common practice for campaigns to set up a counter-rally at an opponent’s event, they rarely encroach on the actual space being used for a news conference.

But repeating the tactic they used in Las Vegas just one day earlier, Heller’s supporters showed up en masse with a slew of campaign signs — including one measuring 5 feet in width — and crowded into the backdrop of Berkley’s news conference.

Sen. Dean Heller is shown during a dedication ceremony for the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Las Vegas Medical Center (VASNHS) in North Las Vegas Monday, August 6, 2012.

Sen. Dean Heller is shown during a dedication ceremony for the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Las Vegas Medical Center (VASNHS) in North Las Vegas Monday, August 6, 2012.

Although it was Berkley’s event, her supporters were a fraction of the number that Heller’s camp turned out, meaning Heller signs outnumbered Berkley signs. One miffed Berkley supporter complained it was a "slimy tactic."

Heller's group was so large that supporters spilled onto the grounds of the Social Security Administration building, prompting security guards to push the entire event onto a narrow sidewalk in front of the building. (Political events aren’t allowed on federal grounds.)

When she arrived, Berkley politely greeted supporters from both campaigns and thanked them for attending.

Then, as heavy traffic whizzed by inches from reporters’ backs and Heller supporters stood silently in the backdrop, Berkley did her best to deliver her prepared remarks.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Berkley said, accusing Heller of protecting tax breaks for oil companies. “The big guys don’t need our help; they’re doing just fine. … He is playing for the wrong team.”

Meanwhile, Berkley’s staff continued trying to placate the antsy security guards, holding them at bay while she finished her remarks.

Berkley’s Democratic strategist, Zac Petkanas, said the Heller campaign’s tactics hardly fazed Berkley. But he argued the tactic represents “an escalation” of aggressive behavior on the part of Heller’s camp.

“Look, she can handle anything; it actually motivates her,” Petkanas said. “However, I have never seen the level of disrespect for personal space for a campaign that I saw from the Heller campaign.”

Heller’s spokeswoman, Chandler Smith, said supporters simply took advantage of an opportunity.

“The public press conference presented an opportunity for volunteers to quietly and respectfully express their support for Dean Heller, which is a perfectly fair and normal activity in any campaign,” she said.

When it was time for questions at the event, the first one had nothing to do with Berkley's message of the day.

“Why here? This is crazy! I can’t even hear you!” the first reporter called out.

“It’ll never happen again!” Berkley responded.

And as questions were just wrapping up, almost as if on cue, it began to rain.

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  1. Something calling itself "BCDave" starts out by lying about it's identity and then complains that Paul Ryan was disrupted (I assume it means in Iowa though it doesn't make this clear). Would that be the Paul Ryan who voted for TARP? I thought a true conservative would vote to let business fail? Doesn't this make him a hypocrite?

    As for Ms. Berkley's appearance, boorish behavior is widely apparent on the right and much less so on the left. It is the media busy making a false equivalency argument.

  2. As Ms. Damon noted, we Heller supporters were silent before, during, and after the Congresswoman's press conference. We were also silent while being scolded by a couple of Berkley's supporters before the event.

    Ms. Damon made a couple of minor errors in her story, however: The lectern was set up on the sidewalk before the Heller supporters and reporters arrived, and the sign was eight feet long.

  3. The FACT remains, Dean Heller Voted TWICE to privatize Medicare and turn it into a Coupon System. He can SAY whatever he wants now, however it's ALL about the way he VOTED to Privatize Medicare in the HOUSE and SENATE as the ONLY Washington Politician to do so. Don't get fooled a Third Time.

  4. Bob365,

    We were all unpaid volunteers, and we arrived in our own cars. We're retirees, middle-aged folks with flexible work schedules, and a few college Republicans, and we all either received an email that morning or a call from a friend.

    Despite the fact that we heard about the press conference only four hours before it began, we outnumbered Berkley's supporters by nearly two to one. Passion to elect Republicans is what got us out there, and good feelings about a job well done our only remuneration.

  5. Well Reno is backwards and therefore has a majority of registered Republicans. They are welfare queens taking more from the state coffers than they put in and shortchanging the South. As Dave Raulino notes Republicans have "passion" and "feelings" but it is too bad they don't do any critical thinking.

  6. Heller and Berkley are both borrow and spenders. Heller pretends like he's a fiscal conservative, but check out his website and see if he has anything resembling an actual plan to balance the budget.

  7. Trying to silence those who disagree with you is un-american. Stay classy Nevada!

  8. Mark Schaffer writes, "Well Reno is backwards and therefore has a majority of registered Republicans. They are welfare queens taking more from the state coffers than they put in and shortchanging the South."

    Wall, ah gess theres no foolin' you 'bout us here Reno rez'dents.

    Resorting to insults, Mark? When I left the Silicon Valley for Northern Nevada, I thought I'd also be leaving these silly regional rivalries behind.

  9. Nope Dave,
    Just acknowledging reality. Countrywide the states that receive more money from the federal government than they pay in are strongly Republican. The Northern part of Nevada has always taken more from the state coffers than you put in so, collectively, you are are welfare queens. The rural part of Nevada benefits quite a bit from federal spending so, far from "standing on your own feet", the rurals are welfare queens as well. Deal with it.

  10. "Never has the payoff for the support of Republicans and their self serving, hypocritical policies by average Americans been articulated with more sad and unfortunate clarity."
    So let me get this straight:

    If we had been paid (we weren't,) that would be bad.

    If we do it because we think it's the right thing to do, and we feel good afterwards for following our strategy of showing our colors without infringing on Con. Berkley's right to speak, that is also bad.

    Some kind of logic, huh?

  11. If Berkley isn't smart enough to know that the plan the Republicans and Heller support would actually SAVE Social Security and Medicare, then she deserves to get shouted down. Sick of loonie leftists lying.

  12. Berkley Says,

    "The big guys don't need our help; they're doing just fine. " He is playing for the wrong team."

    So where all the people in the stands oil company execuitives? It's funny how democrats say that the republicans are only for the 1%. If that were true, you wouldn't need to give your speeches, you would already have a landside victory.

    Vote democrat so you can be told what to do, when to do it, and live by their rules. I'll pass, and I'm very far from a 1%er.

  13. I will show my support for Ms. Berkley @ the polls...

    and, as much as a vote 'for' Shelly, it will be a vote AGAINST the 'appointed one', Dean 'Hobo' Heller.

    As far as I have been able to discern, Dean Heller hasn't had an original thought in decades.
    He's a follower of all things TeaNutlican.
    That's not 'leading', nor is it good for Nevada.

    Don't forget to REGISTER TO VOTE!
    I registered online, and it was quick & painless!

    http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/depts/elect...

  14. let's be realistic. Most people are Republicans because they dream of being in the 1%, no matter how far from reality that notion is for them. If Republicans really were for less government, they would be pro-choice and pro-gay marraige. The current "Republicans" preach about individual freedoms, but it appears the only one they really care about is the right to have assault rifles, armor piercing bullets, and bullet proof vests.

  15. This isn't going to happen to Heller as he is always bunkered doen in his offices and never does this type of event.