News / USA

    Republicans, Democrats Put Own Spin on 'Occupy' Protests

    Jeff Swicord

    The "Occupy" protests around the United States have provided another opportunity for the Democratic and Republican parties to voice their differences.  To the dismay of the protesters, both parties show signs of trying to sway public sentiment about the demonstrations in their favor.

    Four weeks after the "Occupy" protests began, both the Republican and Democratic parties are trying to use them for political advantage.

    At first, Republicans were dismissive. 

    But then the Republican presidential candidates, such as Herman Cain, began blaming the protests on President Barack Obama.

    "This is a distraction from the failed policies of the Obama administration," said Cain.

    Political analysts say that strategy aims to energize voters and refocus anger into traditional Republican themes such as bloated government.

    "The one effective line that I think they will continue to use is that those protesters should turn their sights not so much on Wall Street, but right down to the White House," noted John Fortier with the Bipartisan Policy Center.

    Protesters like Ron Sanger say they expect the news media and politicians to distort their message.

    "They keep denying or not addressing the real issues," said Sanger.  "And these little sound bite thing.  It's not going to sell.  People are getting smarter than that.  And that is why we are here."

    Democrats were quick to sympathize with the demonstrators.  Political analysts say party leaders see some themes they hope will lure voters, like higher taxes for the rich.  Ruy Teixeira is with The Center for American Progress.

    "So, I think they want to try and take advantage of it and it will fit nicely into a lot of the themes that President Obama is trying to develop for his campaign," said Teixeira.

    But the protesters object.  They are angry with President Obama on a number of issues, such as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and his treatment of Wall Street bankers.  Vera Spohr voted for Obama, but is unhappy.

    "He has always been owned by the money.  He still is.  Sure, he will take whatever he can from us and use it his way.  But he is not going to make any substantive changes," said Spohr .

    The protesters say they seek no political endorsements and will ignore the political spin.  They plan to press on with their message: that they are the 99 percent of the population calling for economic justice.

    Spohr

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