By Linda Wheeler
Hampton, a self-employed advertising man who creates Internet ads for clients, said he was angered by a congressional committee's decision to release the videotape of President Clinton's grand jury testimony and thousands of pages of documents in the Monica S. Lewinsky sex scandal. The decision was especially offensive, Hampton said, because polls at the time indicated Americans didn't want to see the material. He decided to do something more than just write his congressman.
"This is a rally to support President Clinton and to say to Congress they have wasted eight months of our time and money in order to denigrate the president and desecrate our Bill of Rights," he said. "I want to say to Congress, 'You have an agenda and you are destroying our America.'"
Clinton is scheduled to leave tomorrow for the West Coast. The White House did not return a call asking for a comment.
Congress is not in session.
Hampton is the first person to follow through on plans to hold a rally in support of Clinton in one of Washington's federal parks, said Toni Carroll, a National Park Service spokeswoman. Several others began the application process but then canceled.
For the weekend of Oct. 31, three other demonstrations related to Clinton are scheduled in Lafayette Square and the Ellipse, she said.
Hampton's We The People rally will have the use of the Ellipse near the White House from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Carroll said.
Hampton, 45, said he announced the rally in bulk messages sent over the Internet beginning Sept. 24, but he does not know how many people will come to Washington. He estimated 1,000 on his Park Service permit application. He included a telephone number where messages could be left and he would be paged to pick up the calls. He said his pager went through several batteries a day for the last two weeks because it went off so often.
The responses were not all positive.
"I'd say they ran about 50-50," he said. "Some say, 'God bless you,' and others say, 'You should have died the day you were born.'"
Hampton said the effort has cost him $3,500 so far, with most of the money going to pay a company to send his e-mail messages en masse. He said the stage and sound system bill is $7,500.
Hampton said he is counting on donations from participants to cover the costs. For the last month, he said, he has been too busy to accept any work. He also said he sent a letter to the Democratic National Committee asking for assistance but had heard nothing. The DNC didn't return calls seeking comment.
"I'm not a rich man," he said. "I run my own business from my home."
Hampton said that he expects the rally to last about 90 minutes and that there will be 11 speakers and two entertainers. He said no famous people would be involved and definitely no politicians.
"This is just about ordinary people," he said.
In his rally announcement, Hampton said the enemies of Clinton were trying to undo the 1996 election.
"They are trying to crucify him on a personal matter that has nothing to do with his ability to govern," Hampton wrote. "It is time to stand for our President, to protect our democracy, to reaffirm that we voted him into office and we will not allow him to be thrown out by those who hate him."
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company