McInturff AHIP Speech Draws Protests
Bill McInturff, managing partner of my wife’s firm, had his keynote speech to AHIP interrupted this morning by singing protesters. Sam Stein reports for HuffPo:
Republican pollster Bill McInturff was the keynote speaker on the final day of the America’s Health Insurance Plans’s state issues conference on Friday morning. But his speech on how the health care reform debate was playing among the public was interrupted before it even began. A group of protesters began aggressively cheering McInturff for the work he has done for AHIP (he’s a hired pollster for the private insurance lobby and, most infamously, was the force behind the ‘Harry and Louise’ ads in 1994)
McInturff, initially thinking that the cheering was legitimate, thanked the “AHIP officials” in the back of the room for giving him mental encouragement for his speech. He was not being paid for his appearance, he noted.
And then, the protesters — dressed in business attire to fit into the crowd — began singing. A relatively lengthy and harmonious rendition of “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie ensued, only with the chorus focused on government-run insurance. “The option, the option, we must have, the option… ” went the rendition, in reference to the public plan.
The whole episode lasted a few minutes before the troupe (around 5 or 6 protesters) was escorted out by security.
McInturff, who remarked earlier that he didn’t have a joke to lead off with, pointed to the exiting protesters and said “there’s my joke.” But while his speech had been interrupted, the pollster actually admitted to being mildly impressed. “If you are going to have protesters at least you can hire people who sing,” he said. “That was very good singing.”
Your mileage may vary on that score. Stein has the lyrics of the song for the curious.
As protests go, this was mild enough. Although I share the reaction of whoever it is that can be heard asking, “Who let this people in here?” I’m seldom amused when Code Pink types or others show up at invitation-only events and interrupt the proceedings.