Obama protesters, supporters gather at Morning Canyon, Poppy [Updated]

Supporters and protesters -- including a horse named Sinatra -- started arriving about 6 a.m. Thursday at Morning Canyon Road and Poppy Avenue on East Coast Highway, taking over about six corners in Corona del Mar ahead of President Obama's visit.

Police sectioned off some corners with tape so people wouldn’t protest in the street.

Protesters and supporters stood together, engaging in heated, but friendly talk. As the morning progressed, a few exchanges escalated into yelling matches.

People walked their dogs down from their Corona del Mar neighborhoods to check out the scene.

About 9 a.m., police started clearing the intersections, blocking the middle of the street. The president’s motorcade arrived shortly thereafter.

The California Highway Patrol and Newport Beach Police Department motorcycle officers escorted the motorcade, consisting of Chevy Suburbans, north on East Coast Highway, possibly from Newport Coast Drive. A Newport Coast resident said Newport Coast Drive was blocked.

After the president drove by, protesters and supporters continued to shout and clap, while drivers honked and yelled their opinions, including, “God bless Obama!”

Signs included "No tea 4 me,"  “Welcome, Mr. President, to the O.C.” and big yellow flags with “Don’t Tread on Me.”

"We're kind of an anomaly," said Patty Gwin, a member of the Newport Beach Women’s Democratic Club.

At 7 a.m. someone yelled into a megaphone, “Four more years!”

Police said some protesters had permits. One officer, who didn’t want to be named, said authorities were letting little municipal code violations like horse droppings in the street and jay walking slide so long as everyone was safe.

Andy Allegaert, 46, who came down from his home on Poppy to check out the scene, said he hasn’t decided who he will vote for as no one supports gay marriage.

“As long as Santorum doesn’t get in, we’re OK,” he said.

“I’m here to let everybody know this is not your father’s Orange County,” said Obama supporter Nadine Hoffman, 53, of Laguna Beach.

Hoffman, who heard about the protest through Moveon.org, arrived at 6 a.m., wearing a jean skirt with a peace patch on it, and what looked like hand-knit wool mittens. She came with her hiking group.

“We want to preserve our liberty,” said Eastbluff residents Mike and Susan Jacobs, who are in their 70s.

Obama’s “tax and spend” policies bother them, they said.

Mike Jacobs said he hasn’t been politically active since the 1960s when he walked precincts for Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson.

“This is an opportunity to express ourselves,” the Jacobs said.

Nancy Johnson, a tea party member wearing a Revolutionary War costume including a tri-corner hat with a red feather, sat atop her white and tan paint horse, Sinatra, while waiting for the president.

“He’s trying to disarm our country,” said Johnson, 55, owner of Shear Attitude in Via Lido. “You take our weapons, you take our freedom away.”

Protesters and supporters alike came over to see the horse, whose name comes from his blue eyes.


Twitter: @mreicher

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