Lured by the promise of free hot dogs, more than 100 protesters met across the street Wednesday from the Kansas City Downtown Marriott, where Vice President Mike Pence was to speak.
The hot dogs never arrived.
Radio station 96.5 The Buzz was all set to throw a “Sausage Party” to protest Pence’s position on LGBTQ issues.
While governor of Indiana, Pence signed a freedom of religion law that opponents said would allow businesses to freely discriminate against gay people. He also supported a 2006 constitutional amendment that would've defined marriage as between a man and a woman, and implied during a speech to the House that gay marriage could lead to societal collapse.
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But the Kansas City Health Department informed The Buzz Wednesday morning that it lacked the required permits. The station elected to cancel the free hot dogs rather than file for the permits.
Pence’s event was aimed at raising money for U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Republican representing Kansas’ 3rd District. Before protesters were summoned by the siren call of free weiners, some gathered at a campaign event for Tom Niermann, one of Yoder's Democratic challengers.
A scattered crowd of about 60 gathered just after 9:30 a.m., where Niermann led a “teach in” to protest Pence’s visit and Yoder’s association with the vice president. The crowed listened to speeches from Niermann, an immigration lawyer, an abortion rights organizer and a student gun advocate, and then chanted for a while before the hot dog crowd assembled.
At one point, 8-year-old Eoghan Nevinger led the chants. His mother is Roeland Park City Council member Jennifer Hill.
The event was primarily aimed at highlighting Yoder’s affiliation with the Trump administration, said campaign manager Zach Helder.
Toward the end of Niermann’s event, those coming for the hot dogs joined in the chants. Several — including Bill Tichenor, 69 — wore shirts promoting the campaign of Sharice Davids, one of Niermann’s Democratic primary opponents.
“I think Pence is a stooge for Trump, and Yoder is a stooge for Pence,” Tichenor said. “The three stooges. You can print that.”
Tichenor said it was the first protest he has attended. He lives in Parkville, so he can’t vote in Kansas' 3rd District race, but he supports Davids.
Davids, as an advocate for LGBTQ issues, was set to speak out against Pence at the hot dog giveaway. When the wieners didn’t arrive, she instead mingled and introduced herself to voters.
At one point a man showed up wearing a hot dog costume made of hundreds of small balloons. As he walked through the crowd, many stopped him to get a selfie.
“I don’t think I need to take a picture with that guy,” Davids told her campaign manager as she shied away slightly from the walking hot dog.