Day One on the NOM Tour o’ #FAIL, Vol. 2: NOM’s California Dreamin’ that anyone would come to their events
September 27, 2010
For those who missed it, today is Day One of the second NOM-sponsored bus tour — this time in alliance with several other socially conservative organizations. We at NOM Tour Tracker are covering it again. More details on the tour and why we’re doing this can be found in my post here.
Because of the volume of stops, we’ll be doing daily or twice-a-day summaries of each day’s stops on this tour, (though we’ll have special devoted coverage for larger rallies/meetings/happenings as they occur). So below, you’ll see dispatches from Bakersfield, Visalia, Hanford and Madera, in travel diary-style. More to come from Roseville, their final stop today – Adam
by Arisha Michelle Hatch
Stop #1: Bakersfield
Only one stop into The Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles’ “Vota Tus Valores” bus tour (vote your values, for those who don’t speak Spanish), sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage, and we’re already questioning whether to take these folks seriously.
The tour bus arrived 15 minutes late to the Park at Riverwalk, which could have caused confusion if anybody had bothered to come (or if the tour had actually taken the time to invite people).
There was no setup for speakers, just Spanish music blaring from the bus, a few organizers handing out literature and an opportunity to be interviewed by a Univision reporter who was forced to guess the location after poor directions from the organizing staff.
“They had a party but nobody came,” said one member from the local Women’s Democratic Club who stopped by with two friends.
Only one “values-voter” stopped by, but she was not Latina.
“I was shopping at Target when I saw the bus across the street and wanted to see what it was all about,” she told me.
We initially counted 8 in attendance, but 7 were organizers that got back on the bus at the end of the stop.
We’re told that there are “a half a dozen” people in the tour bus, but I guess there was no compelling reason for them to actually get off the bus. We counted four Latino organizers in total, everyone else looks pretty white, non-Hispanic.
Like Louis from the NOM tour (hi, Louis!) the organizers were quick to offer us water.
I was speaking with Andy Blum, a spokesperson from American Principles in Action, another of the tour’s sponsors, when one of the younger non-Hispanic organizers approached me with water.
“Bubbly or flat,” he asked.
“Flat, I suppose.”
“Perhaps Perrier is inappropriate,” Blum interjected.
Why NOM would sponsor another #turnoutFAIL bus tour is completely beyond me. Do the people on this bus actually represent Latino/a values? Will they get their act together and actually turn out people?
Stay tuned, this could be very interesting (or, at least, funny).
Update (Adam): Also, Karyme Lozano, the Mexican-born telenovela (soap opera) star who recently had a “religious conversion” was in attendance with Vota Tus Valores, seen here with local reporters:
Lozano, while an anti-choice activist, was also crowned Queen of the 2008 San Francisco Pride Parade and is very supportive of LGBT individuals. For her to ally herself with NOM on this tour is disgraceful. Jorge Amaro has more on Lozano here.
Stop #2: Visalia
The Vota Tus Valores bus tour kept up its attendance average in Visalia — 1 person showed up.
“I vote according to God’s will,” said one Latina woman who happened to be in the park when the bus pulled up but refused to go on-camera.
If you’re keeping tally, the total attendance count is now 2.
Approximately 4 people sat at a picnic table in front of the bus, but it would be a stretch to say that they were even remotely engaged.
We’ll see what the scene is like in Hanford.
Stop #3: Hanford
This stop was even less well-attended than Bakersfield and Hanover (which is a nice way of saying that nobody was there), despite the event organizers’ protestations to the contrary.
The lackluster turnout afforded us the opportunity to meet and speak with Alfonso Aguilar, Executive Director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.
We didn’t get the chance to chat for very long before the bus driver honked the horn signaling that it was time to get on the road. We didn’t go too deep, but I did learn one thing: he’s comfortable with spin in the same way that Brian Brown is.
When asked if they actually engaged any Latino voters at the Hanford stop, Aguilar said “yes we did” (with a straight face) as an organizer named Thomas quickly chimed in to insist that they spoke to two people adding some off-handed comment about siesta that I didn’t quite catch (I don’t want to call anybody a liar so early in the tour, but there wasn’t a single person in that park).
“Our people work,” Aguilar added almost as if he was informing me of some new concept.
Ummm…maybe you should’ve thought about that before picking the time and location?
It may be too soon to tell, but Thomas appears to be compelled to fill Louis’ role over the next 42 stops (for those who didn’t follow the NOM “Summer for Marriage” tour, Louis was Brian Brown’s younger antagonistic tag-along who became a regular character featured on our blog).
The funniest thing so far (other than the Perrier) is that there’s actually an advance team traveling 30 minutes ahead of the tour.
From one organizer to another, here’s a tip: if you arrive at an empty location for a stop that you didn’t promote to begin with, choose a different park.
On to Madera.
Stop #4: Madera
In Madera, the advance team was able to wrangle up a few additional attendees: fifteen men from a local Christian men’s shelter were present to “show support,” including one man wearing an Obama shirt and a reformed neo-Nazi who was heavily tatotted with swastikas.
I was surprised that he shook my hand, but he later admitted that the white power movement was “part of his past.”
I spoke to them about immigration reform – most seemed in favor – as well as marriage equality which elicited a few awkward oppositional laughs.
The heightened attendance meant that Tus Valores actually pulled out a microphone and sound system. Alfonso addressed the crowd before introducing Karyme Lozano who spoke briefly to the crowd about voting your values (very generally).
We’re on our way to Roseville, where the tour folks are holding a “meeting” as listed on their public tour schedule- whatever that means. Stay tuned.
Update: Stop #5: Roseville
The Votabus arrived at their publicized meeting stop in Roseville – a chain Mexican food restaurant/”cantina” called “On the Border” just in time for happy hour.
For those unfamiliar with the restaurant, think Chili’s with a Tex-Mex twist (in fact the restaurant was originally founded by the same investment group). On The Border is a nationwide chain that also maintains international franchises in Puerto Rico, Canada, Egypt, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.
As an avid Mexican food eater, I’m slightly offended if not amused by the choice. For an organization that says it values Latino-owned businesses, the choice is somewhat comical. A simple iPhone Yelp search reveals 30+ locally-owned authentic Mexican food restaurants within a 5 mile radius, but I digress.
Approximately 12 members from the bus are currently having dinner at a large table in the center of the restaurant. There’s not much Latino voter engagement going on unless you count the non-Latino waiter.
Are these guys serious?