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Vin Mannix: Planned Parenthood rally's spirit can't be contained, rained on

TAMPA

An imposing contingent of law enforcement surrounded Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, just north of the University of Tampa campus.

All of them wore matching military style khaki jumpsuits, but everything else was black.

Black boots, black ballcaps, black shades and black weapons strapped to their hips.

They were ready for anything Wednesday afternoon.

It was a tough detail.

There was a rough bunch inside the park's amphitheater.

They were loud, too.

Definitely not Republican, either.

Too many bad haircuts and facial piercings.

It was Planned Parenthood's "Women Are Watching" rally and it sure drew a funky crowd that was awash in a sea of pink T-shirts.

That included a woman on stilts in a pink wig, pink derby hat and pink dress.

Then there was a woman dressed up as the Statue of Liberty.

Another was dressed up as a Catholic nun.

Across the white headpiece over her forehead were the words: "Nun for you."

Whatever that means.

A rough crowd, indeed.

The protestors made up posters few of which would make it into a family newspaper.

Let's just say there were some inventive uses of the acronym GOP.

One was, "Get Out of our Pants."

Clever signs aside, the rally's prevailing message was definitely against the Republican candidates and a GOP platform that limits women's rights regarding health care and contraception.

They won't be voting for the Republican National Convention headliners in November.

When Mitt Romney's name was mentioned by a speaker at the podium, booing filled the concrete amphitheater.

Same for his running mate, Paul Ryan.

But guess whose name drew the most derision?

Why, our own Gov. Rick Scott.

Imagine that.

Throughout the muggy afternoon, speakers also kept the crowd worked up with a little

call and response:

"Women..."

"VOTE!"

"Planned..."

"PARENTHOOD!"

"Ho ho, hey, hey..."

"PLANNED PARENTHOOD IS HERE TO STAY!"

One of the speakers who got the audience going was dressed up as a birth control pill pack.

You had to be there.

About 45 minutes into the scheduled two-hour rally, rain sent many in the crowd fleeing for cover.

Yet the faithful carried on inside the amphitheater.

"Ho ho, hey, hey..." could be heard over the downpour.

Outside, law enforcement kept watch, ever vigilant.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Call Vin at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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