"Take Back Sac" went mano a mano with "Meg for Queen" at high noon Tuesday, as about 50 protesters from the California Nurses Association and the California School Employees Association disrupted an outdoor rally by Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.
The site of the clash was the parking lot of the Asian Garden Mall in Westminster, where Whitman addressed about 150 people, many of them from the city's giant Vietnamese community.
While the unions have showed up before at several Whitman events, the open-air location of Tuesday's rally gave the protesters a rare chance to get in the candidate's face. A bus adorned with the words "Queen Meg" also drove -- slowly -- many times around the block.
Whitman delivered an abbreviated version of her standard stump speech while flanked by large signs reading "Take Back Sac." Or at least she tried to. About 30 yards away, from the sidewalk of Bolsa Avenue, the protesters chanted, blew whistles and did everything they could to drown out Whitman's speech.
At one point, the protesters chanted, including one person through a megaphone, "Meg for Queen!" while Whitman pledged, "I will take on those special interests."
Actress and teacher Elaine Burn, dressed as Queen Meg, also made an appearance, waving to the real Meg Whitman and rubbing her white-gloved thumb and index finger together in the classic symbol of "Show me the money."
Those audience members listening to Whitman seemed mostly amused at the hubbub, with Trysh Ton of Rancho Cucamonga commenting about the protesters, "They should have better things to do such as getting a side job. We need two jobs to survive these days in California."
Whitman herself told reporters about the protesters, "I'm just going to do the same thing over and over again, which is talking about what I think matters most to Californians, which is jobs and spending and fixing our K-12 education system."
Whitman notably greeted the crowd and spoke to reporters while flanked by two burly security guards.
Nurse Margie Keenan of Long Beach said she was upset at Whitman's proposals to cut state employee numbers. The candidate said in Roseville last month that she had no position on nurse-patient ratios but has talked about possibly cutting University of California staffing levels.
"We hope we got people to look at the other side and see what's going on here," Keenan said.
By 1 p.m., calm had returned to the Asian Garden Mall.
Whitman had been whisked away, hundreds of people flocked to the food court for pho and other delicacies and a woman onstage was singing a Vietnamese version of the disco classic "I Will Survive."