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GOP leaders rally hundreds in protest of health care bill at Capitol

From Evan Glass, CNN Congressional Producer
Protesters unfurl a copy of the House health care reform bill during a rally Saturday outside the U.S. Capitol.
Protesters unfurl a copy of the House health care reform bill during a rally Saturday outside the U.S. Capitol.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • More than a dozen GOP lawmakers urged protesterst to keep up the fight
  • "We are here for one purpose: Kill the bill!" said Rep. Marsha Blackburn
  • Rep. Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina, calls on conservative Democrats to vote no
  • Earlier Saturday, President Obama urged passage of the House bill

Washington (CNN) -- Foes of the House Democrats' health care bill rallied outside the Capitol Saturday afternoon, hours before what many of them anticipated will be a setback for their position -- approval of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's bill.

"It may pass out of the House tonight. We do realize that," Jenny Beth Martin, event organizer for the Tea Party Patriots, said. "But there is the Senate still. And we are going to leave no stone unturned and fight the government taking over our health care."

Chanting "Kill the bill" and "Hell, no" throughout the nearly 90-minute rally, the few hundred attendees kept up their opposition despite having a much lower turnout than a similar rally held on Thursday.

More than a dozen Republican lawmakers spoke to the protesters and encouraged them to keep up the fight by speaking to wavering Democrats and their families, friends and neighbors about the legislation.

"We are here for one purpose: Kill the bill!" said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee.

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"America doesn't need socialized medicine. We need jobs," Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Georgia, said.

"I diagnose [this bill] as a dead, rotting stinking fish that we will not eat," said Rep. Paul Broun, a Republican doctor from Georgia.

And in a fiery speech trying to convince the conservative "blue dog" Democrats to vote against the bill, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina, asked, "Are they a blue dog or a lap dog? We'll find out."

Earlier Saturday, President Obama urged lawmakers in the House to pass the pending health care legislation.

"Millions of Americans are watching right now," the president told reporters in a brief news conference in the White House Rose Garden. "Their families and businesses are counting on us. After all, this is why they sent us here: to finally confront the challenges that Washington had been putting off for decades. To make their lives better. To leave this country stronger than we found it."

Obama's comments came shortly after he had returned to the White House from Capitol Hill, where he met with the House Democratic leadership.

 
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