PORTLAND — Protesters gathered Thursday to challenge President Obama and the health care legislation he came to Maine to speak about.

Several hundred demonstrators stood behind barricades across from the entrance to the Portland Expo parking lot, ringing hand-held bells several times throughout the day.

Some carried signs, with messages such as “Marxist in Chief” or “Obama and Congress are Traitors to our Constitution.”

Hundreds were rallied by the Maine Heritage Policy Center. Others protested with the Maine Patriots or other groups.

Chris Cinquemani, spokesman for the Maine Heritage Policy Center, said his group sent out an action alert to 7,000 people, and asked individual members to join the protest.

“Despite the president coming to Maine to thank Chellie Pingree for rubber stamping his agenda and trying to convince Maine people that his health care is good for America, we’re here to let the president know we’re not going to be fooled,” Cinquemani said. “The president’s bill amounts to politicians playing doctor. That’s bad policy for Maine and America. We’re not going to be fooled.”

Conservatives Beth and Jack Wadsworth of Hiram held a sign that read: “Obama’s chapter in history: Chapter 11.”

The pair, who run a small timberland management company, are concerned for their bottom line.

“I came here to express my thoughts,” Beth Wadsworth said. “We are the silent majority and we’re tired of it.”

Said her husband: “We came to pester the progressives. My ancestors fought the British. We have to fight the progressives.”

Frank Giordano, 62, and his wife, Pat, traveled from Newport wearing American flag rugby shirts and holding signs.

One read: “Obama lied when he took the oath of office to uphold our Constitution of the United States and its people.”

“They’re not listening to the whole country,” Giordano said. “Obama’s agenda is just moving too fast.” 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

jmenendez@pressherald.com