Dueling health care reform rallies descend on Fort Collins, target Markey

Accompanied by a fife-and-drum combo, two opposing groups are gathered in Old Town Fort Collins over the noon hour to try to persuade U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey either to support or oppose health care reform legislation currently before Congress. The fife and drum players, incidentally, are part of the counter-protest organized by the Tea Party of Northern Colorado against a pro-reform rally put together by the liberal Organizing for America group, according to Fort Collins Coloradoan editor Bob Moore, who is Tweeting from the scene.

Both groups want to sway Markey, a freshman Democrat who hasn’t yet stated whether she favors a public option in the legislation. “I think we all agree that we need to reform our health-care system to address cost, quality and coverage,” Markey tells Moore, “but we don’t all agree on the best way to get there.”

Markey will be on the hot seat during the upcoming August congressional recess. Already, two national Republican groups have announced plans to target her northern Colorado district with radio and television ads arguing against current health care reform proposals.

“Socialism Rewards Parasites,” reads one of the “kinder, gentler” signs Moore spotted, while emphasizing “the kinder, gentler signs are the exception today.”

Moore Tweets that the median age at both rallies “appears to be 50+” and that the activists are are keeping their distance, both from each other and from Markey’s office a few blocks from the corner where the rallies gathered.

Here’s a view of South College Avenue and West Mulberry Street, only missing the rallies on the corners:

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To help keep the peace, Markey’s staffers are distributing a detailed, four-page survey to participants on both sides. “Any surveys containing profanity will be discarded,” the survey notes up top.

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