Grothman says confrontation with protesters didn't scare him

2011-03-02T19:00:00Z 2011-07-05T18:08:41Z Grothman says confrontation with protesters didn't scare himMARY SPICUZZA | mspicuzza@madison.com | 608-252-6122 madison.com

State Senator Glenn Grothman says he wasn't scared.

But the Republican lawmaker, who was loudly heckled by protesters as he struggled to get into the locked-down state Capitol Tuesday, found the incident ironic because, he said, he actually respects the protesters.

"They are slobs," he said. "But I don't hate these people for being slobs. I don't mind nice slobs." 

The conservative West Bend Republican, an outspoken supporter of Gov. Scott Walker's controversial plan to limit collective bargaining for public workers, said he normally likes to walk through the crowds of protesters who have occupied the Capitol for more than two weeks. But after Walker's budget address Tuesday night, he left to talk to a group of life insurance salesmen at a hotel across the street and — like just about everyone else — couldn't get back into the locked building when he returned.

Grothman tried the media entrance but security wouldn't let him in. He tried the public entrance but found a massive crowd of protesters. He even doubled back and knocked on his office window. But his staff ignored him, thinking he was a protester.

As he circled the building, he picked up a trail of protesters and finally found himself cornered. Many in the crowd chanted "Shame!" Others drummed and blew whistles.

That's when liberal state Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, stepped in to shield him from the crowd.

"We're two people who couldn't be more different politically," Hulsey said. "I respect him, although I marvel at some of his views."

As Hulsey squeezed between Grothman and the crowd, other demonstrators joined in to help, flashing peace signs and trying to calm the others. Finally the pair of polar-opposite lawmakers went to an entrance reserved for police and Grothman got inside.

Grothman appears to have taken the whole incident in stride. His view of the protesters is that they're mainly university students having fun and "sleeping on air mattresses with their girlfriends.

"I really think five years from now most of these people will have a real job and be voting Republican," Grothman said.

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