Occupy Wall Street went straight for Washington, D.C. on Nov. 22, as a group of protesters from the 99 percent interrupted President Obama's speech in Manchester, N.H. on the American Jobs Act.
Speaking on the financial crisis at a New Hampshire high school, Obama had planned to go after Republicans for their inaction on the economy's breakdown, and to outline his jobs bill. A man in the crowd however, interrupted the President's speech by employing the People's Microphone, a method of human echoing that has become widespread in Occupy protests across the country.
It's Okay, It's Okay.
Mic check! the man yelled, his cry echoed by Occupy supporters in the auditorium. Mr. President, the group chanted. Over 4,000 peaceful protesters have been arrested while banksters continue to destroy the economy...
Audience members, mostly high school students, began to boo the interruption, but President Obama quieted them. It's okay, it's okay, he repeated as the group made a somewhat disjointed call for greater D.C. accountability.
You must stop the assault on our First Amendment rights, the Occupy group chanted. Your silence sends a message that police brutality is acceptable.
Obama waited until the protesters were done, then took to the microphone once more. We'll be talking about a whole range of things today, the President told the crowd. I appreciate you guys making your point. Let me go ahead and make mine, alright? And I’ll listen to you and you listen to me.”
The crowd erupted into cheers.
Obama Reaction at Odds with GOP
Obama's reaction to the OWS interruption on Nov. 22 stands in contrast to some of his GOP rivals for the 2012 presidential nomination, many of whom have also had their speeches temporarily taken over by Occupy demonstrators over the past few weeks.
Michele Bachmann had perhaps the most infamous reaction at a Nov. 10 rally in Charleston, S.C. Bachmann stood frozen at the podium as Occupy demonstrators began to chant.
This will only take a minute, protesters said, shouting over boos and angry yells from the crowd. You capitalize on dividing Americans, claiming people that disagree with you are unpatriotic socialists, and you promote discrimination.
Bachmann responded by leaving the stage with a police escort. She only reappeared when the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators had exited the rally. Don't you just love the First Amendment? she quipped.
Bachmann has been criticized for her reaction to the OWS interruption, and for her downplaying of a Constitutional amendment she has very vocally upheld in the past.
Some conservatives however, view reactions like Obama's as encouraging the protesters to continue what they view as disrespectful and disruptive actions by lazy leftist who want to destroy capitalism. The Republicans include Bachmann's fellow candidates in the GOP primary, as well as prominent Republicans like Karl Rove.
No, You're Not!
Karl Rove was mic checked by demonstrators on Nov. 16 at Johns Hopkins University, and the conservative pundit's reaction was far from sympathetic and understanding.
If you believe in free speech... then you demonstrate it by shutting up and waiting until the Q&A section! Rove shouted over the protesters. Responding to Occupy chants of We are the 99 percent! Rove started up his own chant (No! You're! Not!) and GOP primary candidate Newt Gingrich, though none of his speeches have yet been interrupted by OWS protesters, took an opportunity immediately following Mayor Bloomberg's evacuation of Zuccotti Park to slam the protesters as well.
At a Thanksgiving Table forum in Iowa on Nov. 19, Gingrich called Occupy Wall Street self-righteous and a symptom of how much the Left has collapsed as a moral system in this country.
Go get a job, Gingrich finished, right after you take a bath.
Ron Paul, Pres. Obama Have Right Idea
Not every Republican however, is gunning for the Occupy Wall Street movement, and Obama's recent, more populist stance may prove a great help in the 2012 presidential elections.
GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney has gone back and forth on the Occupy protesters, in one speech both calling them dangerous and that he understands them.
Far more effective is the strategy taken up by Ron Paul, long recognized as one of the main voices of libertarianism in American politics.
On Nov. 21, Occupy Wall Street crashed a New Hampshire rally and began heckling the GOP primary candidate. Paul however, waited until they were finished before delivering this quip: Do you feel better?
Paul then went on to express his solidarity with the Occupy movement. If you listen carefully, I'm very much involved with the 99, Paul assured the demonstrators.
He even co-opted a popular OWS chant for his final words. People on Wall Street got the bailouts, and you guys got stuck with the bills, and I think that's where the problem is.
Paul's support for the momentum behind the Occupy Wall Street movement is nothing new. Back in early October, Paul told the National Press Club that he admired OWS, calling the protesters part of a legitimate effort of civil disobediance.
The recent mic check of Ron Paul proves however, that Paul is sticking by that claim, and may explain why the man so many initially dismissed as a Third Party write-in has become a force to be reckoned with in the Republican presidential race.
President Obama meanwhile, played up his populist side in his Nov. 22 speech, using the interruption to help slam GOP resistance to Obama's 2-percentage-point payroll tax cut and play up Occupy themes of the 1 percent versus the 99 percent.
“For a lot of the folks who have been in New York and all across the country in the Occupy movement, there is a profound sense of frustration about the fact that the essence of the American dream, which is if you work hard, if you stick to it that, you can make it, feels like that’s slipping away,” Obama told the crowd. “And that’s not the way things are supposed to be. Not here. Not in America.”
Occupy demonstrators afterward spoke warmly of the President's reaction. Tom LaValley, in an interview with The Post, said he was still undecided but likely to vote for Obama in 2012. He looked us in the eye, let us speak, LaValley, 23, said. He didn't drag us out, didn't have security come get us.
OWS: Winter is Coming
Recurring interruptions by Occupy Wall Street supporters is symptomatic of the past few weeks in the presidential primaries, as things between the GOP rivals and President Obama begin to heat up.
They are also a sign however, that the Occupy Wall Street's incredible forward motion, which has caused the protests to spread worldwide, is now in a stage of uncertainty and stalling.
Winter is fast approaching those who still huddle in tents and rely on heaters and scant food for warmth and nourishment. Many of the original sites of the OWS movements have been forcibly evacuated by the police, with cops destroying Occupy Oakland, the Zuccotti Park encampment and many others in late-night raids full of arrests and rumors of police brutality.
The Occupy Wall Street movement may end up rallying liberals and some independents in the coming election year, but the future of OWS in its current incarnation is now suddenly in flux.
No wonder then, that the past week and a half has seen countless more sit-ins and rallying cries interrupting political speeches, moving along the campaign trail. And no wonder demonstrators show such gratitude when they feel their voices are heard, and such riotous anger when they are not.
Below, the four ways politicians have dealt with mic checks during their speeches. Watch the videos below:
OWS Interrupts Obama in New Hampshire.
OWS Protestors Confront Bachmann in South Carolina.
Occupy Wall Street Mic Check on Karl Rove at Johns Hopkins University.
Ron Paul to OWS: Do you feel better?