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US liberal rally in Washington drew 215,000: estimate

October 31, 2010

A Washington rally hosted by liberal comics as an antidote to seething partisan rhetoric ahead of US mid-term elections drew 215,000 people, an estimate commissioned by CBS News said Sunday.

The crowd was more than twice the 87,000 who turned up to a rally in August hosted by ultra-conservative news show host Glenn Beck, according to AirPhotosLive.com, which based its estimates on aerial pictures of the events.

Beck appalled liberals by hosting his "restore honor" rally on the anniversary and at the site, on the National Mall, of civil rights leader Martin Luther King's famous "I have a dream" speech.

Two weeks later, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, known for their biting political satire shows on Comedy Central, announced twin rallies on the Mall which were later combined into one.

Beck's rally attracted many members of the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement, which has claimed the mantle of voter enthusiasm this election season.

Most analysts expect Republicans, driven the momentum of the Tea Party and dissatisfaction at Obama's handling of the economy, to make significant gains in Tuesday's congressional and gubernatorial polls.

After controversies over the sizes of past rallies, the National Park Service, which is responsible for the Mall, does not provide crowd estimates.

AirPhotosLive.com said its estimate had a margin of error of plus or minus 10 percent.

Mocking the challenge in counting crowd size, Stewart joked during Saturday's event, which clogged the streets and overwhelmed Washington's subway system, that there were 10 million people there.

After his rally, Beck said he was told that between 300,000 and 500,000 people attended.

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