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October 13, 2015

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Hundreds wait, debate before Obama rally gets under way

Obama Visits Las Vegas

President Barack Obama salutes after landing at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas Friday, October 22, 2010. Launch slideshow »

A half hour before the doors opened, hundreds of people lined up around the block in anticipation of President Barack Obama’s rally for Sen. Harry Reid at Orr Williams Middle School.

While there were plenty of eager supporters for Obama and Reid lining the sidewalks of Algonquin Drive and Katie Avenue, one man was defending himself from a group of angry supporters.

“Well, I didn’t plan on seeing the president,” Greg Halvorson said while holding a Sharron Angle poster. “I just came down to exercise my First Amendment right as an American. It’s a passionate and fun election to participate in. I came down here to experience the hate of the left, as well.”

As Halvorson held his sign, the Obama and Reid supporters who surrounded him gave him a hard time. Some jokingly yelled, “Man up!” — a phrase Angle has used repeatedly toward Reid — but others were more strident.

“I’m going to wipe up the floor with you,” Kyung Egan yelled to Halvorson. “On your best day you’re not as smart as I am on my worst day.”

Judy Parker of Mesquite was calmer while debating with Halvorson about Angle’s stance on abortion.

“Sharron Angle is destroying this country. She has come out and said if you’re handed a lemon, you just got to make lemonade,” Parker said, referring to a statement Angle made about her opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape. “If my daughter or granddaughter got raped and pregnant, I’d take her clear across the country to get an abortion.”

While Halvorson stirred up the crowd with his sign, others, like 84-year-old Hubert Brown and his wife, Mildred Nolan, waited patiently to support the president and Reid.

“Obama’s doing the best he can,” Nolan said. “He’s just a marvel. Nothing seems to get him down. I know he has moments; he’s right in there trying to do everything.”

Brown, a World War II veteran and New York native, said he doesn’t like Sharron Angle because of positions she’s taken on privatizing Social Security and the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

“She wants to do away with everything that’s taken years to get,” Brown said.

Izzy Coutin, a Californian who has been following the Nevada Senate election, said Angle and the Tea Party frighten him because of their extreme views.

“It’s unfortunate that this country has so many fools,” Coutin said. “They like to think the Tea Party and extremism is the equivalent to patriotism. It’s frightening to me. It’s a scary thought.”

Farther down the line, Jim Reed said the key to victory for Democrats is for voters to show up at the polls.

“If they can get all these people to go vote, then that’s success for them. Because they’ll certainly vote the same way they voted in ’08,” Reed said.

Watching with a smile as the argument intensified between Halvorson, Parker and Egan, he said Halvorson had every right to be here.

“That’s called freedom of speech. I’ve done it with Republican groups before,” Reed said as he laughed. “It’s a kick.”

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