Politics

01.25.12

Florida Activist Disrupts a Newt Gingrich Rally in Coral Springs, Fla.

A Florida activist and former Lake Worth City Commission member engaged Newt Gingrich in a shouting match over his involvement with Freddie Mac at a Coral Springs campaign stop.

A small woman with a big mouth managed to disrupt a large Newt Gingrich rally for at least 15 minutes in Coral Springs, Fla., on Wednesday, sending the candidate’s staff into a tizzy and enraging the crowd.

It was quite a scene as a scrum of journalists ignored the candidate and turned to Cara Jennings, who heckled Gingrich in the face of intimidation from his campaign workers, threats from nearby supporters, and the two police officers who showed up to flank her.

“Do you work for the people or Freddie Mac?” Jennings shouted at the former speaker, who was on a platform in a parking lot about 50 feet away.

“I work for the people,” Gingrich responded.

Gingrich, who is locked in a close primary contest for the GOP presidential nomination, first tried to calmly engage the woman, directing her to a New York Times story about his relationship with the mortgage lender.

Video screenshot

Watch the heckler.

The woman kept shouting, and Gingrich implored her to give others a chance to hear him. But Jennings kept it up, and Gingrich continued engaging her.

“Nothing you say is true,” he said with a tight smile, as 1,200 people cheered him on. “Noise without knowledge does not make a free society.”

Meanwhile, two local supporters descended on the woman, one being Karen Hoffman, a Tea Party activist, who told reporters not to pay attention to Jennings. Yeah, right. 

Hoffman also called for the police to silence Jennings. A few feet away, a man attending the rally helpfully started shouting, “You’re an imbecile. Get out of here!” At this point, if Jennings hadn’t completely disrupted the rally, the supporter was doing his best to finish the job.

Finally, the police officers resorted to begging her to stop heckling.

“Are you going to arrest me?” Jennings asked. “I still have more to say.”

A few feet away, a man attending the rally helpfully started shouting, "You’re an imbecile. Get out of here!"

The officers politely told her that they were not going to arrest her, but that if she didn’t stop, they would remove her for her own safety. And they did, forming a ring around her as the crowd chanted, “Na-na-nah-na, na-na-nah-na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye.”

Jennings said she was a 35-year-old grant writer. A Google search indicates she is an outspoken activist and no stranger to protests. She is a former City Commission member from Lake Worth, and referred to as a member of the Green Party.

A 2010 article in The Palm Beach Post described her as “someone who has loudly protested FPL [Florida Power & Light] and the Israeli embassy, even if it meant getting arrested for civil disobedience. Who created a labor center out of dilapidated shuffleboard courts at the center of town at the risk of being called an apologist for undocumented immigrants. Who gave up her job teaching life skills to at-risk high school students to live solely on her $14,000-a-year commissioner's salary, growing her own food, keeping her own beehives.”