A rally to support a Florida Marine reservist who remains in Mexican custody after he drove into Tijuana carrying three guns and 400 rounds of ammo drew about 75 people Wednesday night, May 28, including at least two Tea Party candidates and two right-leaning radio-show hosts.
Gina Loudon, who has parlayed a PhD in psychology into a talk-show career, explained that she has adopted Tahmooressi's cause because he is a hero who made a mistake.
"He fought terrorists for our country and, you could say, for Mexico — for everyone, really," Loudon said in an interview. "It's time we bring this soldier home."
Loudon was joined by congressional candidate Kirk Jorgensen, a former Marine; gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly phoned in to the rally. Both are closely identified with the Tea Party movement.
The crowd, estimated by police at 75 people, listened politely to impassioned calls for Tahmooressi's release from Loudon, radio-host Mark Slater, Jorgensen, and Ann-Marie Murrell, director in chief of Politichix TV and Loudon's co-author for her book, What Women Really Want (which she displayed during her remarks).
Speakers called for stronger action by the Obama administration and called on California politicians to support the effort to free Tahmooressi, now led by congressman Duncan Hunter.
One of the speakers took aim at U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas (a Democrat), apparently unaware that Vargas has cosigned at least one of Hunter's letters to U.S. and Mexican officials. But Loudon assured the crowd that the support for Tahmooressi was not political.
"This is a nonpartisan effort," she said. "This is about bringing this American hero home."
The rally was held in front of a duty-free shop on the west side of the I-5, and a store employee watched from the doorway as the mostly white and mostly older crowd waved American flags and applauded the speakers.
A man held a sign that offered to trade 12 million Mexicans — referring to the estimated number of illegal immigrants — "for one Good Marine." (A Pew Research study last year estimated the number at 11.7 million.)
Asked what he would say if a Mexican citizen with a bunch of guns accidentally drove into the U.S. and got arrested, one flag-wearing demonstrator swore at this reporter.
"That's not the point," he said.
Meanwhile, Loudon recounted her conversations with the imprisoned reservist's mom, Jill Tahmooressi, during her remarks.
"He prays with his mom every night," she said. "He's praying for the Mexican guards — that's what kind of man he is."
Loudon said Jill Tahmooressi had promised to call and speak at the rally by phone, but the call never came through.
"I think she fell asleep," Loudon confided.
Photos are of Gina Loudon (elaborate blue necklace, skirt) and Ann-Marie Murrell, in pants.