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Humorous mock press conference aimed to get Bachmann's attention

The Minnesota Nurses Association Day of Action for Main Street included a visit from a Michele Bachmann puppet outside of the congresswoman's Woodbury offices Thursday. Staff photo by Riham Feshir1 / 2
The Michele Bachmann puppet stands with Wall Street "advisors" at Thursday's protest. Staff photo by Riham Feshir2 / 2

Minnesota nurses mocked U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann outside of her Woodbury office today in attempt to grab her attention and change some of her political views on tax reform.

The Minnesota Nurses Association Day of Action for Main Street included a Woodbury visit with a 10-foot tall, lifelike puppet of the congresswoman, voiced with purported Bachmann quotes in a mock press conference.

"I don't believe affordable health care has any place in the land of the free," a speaker said, reading a Bachmannn response to an acting reporter's question about what she has done to help those on Main Street who can't access health care.

As they held signs that read "Heal America, Tax Wall Street" and wore shirts that said "Tell me where it hurts," the nurses wanted to send a clear message to the 2012 Republican presidential candidate.

Jean Ross, president of the National Nurses United and member of the Minnesota Nurses Association, said the large union demands that lawmakers tax Wall Street to heal America.

In the serious part of the event, Ross said nurses continue to see millions of Americans who can't afford medical bills, prescription drugs and treatments for various illnesses. Though some are insured, they're still unable to afford enormous co-pays.

So Ross suggests taxing Wall Street to inject $300 billion into the country's economy.

"Money just doesn't evaporate," Ross said, demanding that Bachmann and other lawmakers stop making "ridiculous" cuts.

She added that the country is not broke -- the money is just in the hands of fewer people.

"They don't make anything, they don't produce anything, all they do is produce trouble," she said of Wall Street traders.

Ross explained the transactional tax increases are modest enough that traders won't stop.

Protestors said stocks, bonds, derivatives, currencies and credit default swaps were the speculative activities linked to the 2008 financial meltdown and recession. The only way to get out of it is to tax Wall Street, they said.

Association members said they have repeatedly reached out to Bachmann to ask for her support in taxing Wall Street but she hasn't responded.

However, a Bachmann spokesperson, Becky Rogness, said the congresswoman's staff met with members of the Minnesota Nurses Association at her Woodbury district office Thursday. She did not elaborate on what was discussed.

"Congresswoman Bachmann appreciates hearing from her constituents and values their input," she added.

The point of the dramatized press conference was to "get answers from Bachmann, in her own words," Ross said.

The puppet was voiced by one of the association members who imitated Bachmann's demeanor, while faux Wall Street "fat cats" or "advisors," as organizers termed them, stood beside her throwing money.

"How do you feel about the fact that 1 percent owns 70 percent of America's assets?" asked a staged reporter.

"We're running out of rich people in this country," answered the Bachmann puppet.

"What do you think is the solution to the wealth gap and high unemployment in your district?" asked another reporter.

"If we took away the minimum wage -- if conceivably it was gone -- we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level," replied the voiced puppet.

The humorous conference continued with questions about issues ranging from health care coverage to foreclosure.

Member of the Minnesota Nurses Association John Nemo said the organization tried to get a response from Bachmann about the protest beforehand but was unsuccessful.

When asked if she thought Bachmann would take the event lightly, Ross said, "I don't think Michele Bachmann has ever laughed at anything."

The event was held late this morning and will be followed by a visit to the Minnesota State Fair this afternoon. However, the puppet was a special appearance only in Woodbury, where the 6th District lawmaker's local offices are located.

Nurses across the nation are participating in similar events at more than 60 congressional offices in 21 states as part of the National Nurses United "Main Street Contract for America" campaign.

Ross said it doesn't matter which party introduces the legislation as long as it's done right.

"This is just the beginning," she added. "Since no one else seems to be starting, we're starting."

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.