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January 17, 2018

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Outside rally, colorful protester has colorful views

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Richard McCaslin, who goes by “The Phantom Patriot” when in costume, protests at a rally for President Barack Obama on Sunday at Desert Pines High School.

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The cover of Richard McCaslin's pamphlet.

A masked man in a superhero costume stood by himself in the middle of the road, about 100 yards from a knot of arguing Barack Obama and Mitt Romney supporters.

Richard McCaslin, who goes by “The Phantom Patriot” when in costume, had been standing with his props, protesting both parties since 4 p.m. Sunday at Desert Pines High School.

“Fundamentally, there is no difference between the Democratic and Republican parties,” he said. “It seems like the richest guy always gets in.”

He said he has protested in his costume dozens of times during the past year and a half, but usually people don’t take much notice of him.

“Both sides are going to be disappointed with their choices," he said. "They just don’t know it yet.”

The short, broad-shouldered man in his hooded blue and red outfit and laced boots paused from conversation for a moment as a little boy ran up to him to take a picture. McCaslin smiled and posed, and sweat rolled down from underneath his white mask.

He returned to explaining his views.

By eliminating the parties, McCaslin said, money in politics no longer would decide policy. He’s protesting the system, not the individual candidates.

The 48-year-old Pahrump resident said he wishes more people would vote for someone other than the candidates supported by the Republicans and Democrats. He’d ultimately like to see no parties at all.

“I think every time a politician is on TV or live, they should be hooked up to a polygraph,” he said. “I’m dead serious.”

Not far from McCaslin was a ripple of shouting across the street coming from people of more traditional political affiliations.

“Four more years,” the Obama supporters said.

“Three more months,” the Romney supporters said back.

Debbie Lee, a Tea Party member from Surprise, Ariz., was standing with about 10 other Romney supporters. She said she flew into town Saturday for a Republican rally and just happened to hear of the event.

“I’m fed up. I have had it. I can’t take four more years of this man disrespecting our troops,” she said.

Lee’s son, a Navy SEAL, was killed in Afghanistan in 2006. She said she doesn’t think the country is heading in the right direction, and she thinks immediate change is needed. She doesn’t like the way the administration has handled the military, the conflict in Libya and the economy.

She and her colleagues continued to shout their their views, but the pro-Obama sentiment was louder as more than 11,000 people filed in to hear the president speak.

Roger Thompson, 68, didn’t quite make it inside. He said he thinks the country is moving in the right direction and believes Obama deserves a second term.

“I think at this present time, the Democrats have a better vision for the country,” he said. “The economy is going to improve no matter what, whether it’s Romney or Obama.”

About 6 p.m., just a few people remained outside, trying to get in for the rally. There was no more shouting, but McCaslin still was there, standing by himself.

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