Protestors carrying signs reading "Tax the Rich," "Stop the War on Workers" and "Don't Feed Corporate Greed" gathered outside the Florida State Fairgrounds on Monday, hours before the start of a Republican presidential candidate debate sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express.
The Rev. Bruce Wright, a member of the Poor People's Human Rights Campaign, founded in 1996, was among the organizers of the protest. He said he also plans to organize protests during the Republican National Convention set for Tampa in 2012.
"One of our platforms and concerns is tax cuts for the rich. We believe that needs to end. We believe that loopholes need to end. That foreclosures need to stop and that jobs need to stop being shipped overseas," Wright said. "We also have a strong stance against the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq."
Wright said he expected several hundred protesters at the fairgrounds, at various locations. About three dozen were stationed near the Tea Party Express bus and CNN remote studio at the fairgrounds.
Among them is Susie Shannon, a member of the AFSCME union who works at the University of South Florida. The Republican candidates, she said, need to focus less on deficit reduction and more on jobs. Protestor David Maynard, a member of the Socialist Party of Florida, had this to say about the presidential candidates: "Of the Republican candidates, one is crazier than the next one and Obama is a lousy candidate."
Maynard criticized Obama for expanding the war on terror, not closing Guantanamo, and caving on the public option in the federal health care legislationi.
"He has not done any of the things he said he was going to do," Maynard said.