Representative Gary Condit's supporters gathered in Turlock, Calif., Monday evening to rally around the embattled Democratic congressman, who is facing pressure to resign following his admission of an affair with missing Washington intern Chandra Levy.
"I believe that the people of this valley know Gary and Carolyn Condit better than the news media," the Rev. Adrian Condit, a Baptist minister and the congressman's father, told the cheering crowd. "I want you to know this evening that no amount of news media rhetoric, implications or accusations, sources known or unknown will ever divide the Condit family."
The event, hosted by a group that called itself "The 18th Congressional District Supports Congressman Gary Condit," was held on a makeshift stage inside the fenced parking lot of the Assyrian-American Civic Club. The participants, who tolerated triple-degree heat to come out for Condit, were nearly equaled in number by the reporters and cameramen who were on hand to document the rally.
"I continue to support [Condit] because of his personal touch with his constituents," said Mary Schalz, a retired medical technician from Chandra Levy's hometown of Modesto, 25 miles south of Turlock.
"He's always been available, even sometimes answering the phones in his office," added Schalz, who helped organize the rally. "We pray that his strength holds up and he gets a good rest while he's here. When the venue and the time is right, he'll speak to his constituents about all of this. This is just not the right place for it today."
A smaller group of anti-Condit protesters stood outside the parking-lot fence, chanting "Scary Gary" and "I Support Gary, I Support Adultery." Twice during the event, lone protesters walked inside the lot, only to be quickly surrounded by Condit supporters who jostled and badgered them until they eventually went back outside the gates.
Condit has maintained his public silence about the 24-year-old Levy, who has been missing since early May. Washington, D.C., police have no clues about her whereabouts. They have said Condit is not a suspect in her disappearance, but they have interviewed him four times, taken a DNA sample and searched his apartment.
Condit, who did not appear at the rally, has not been seen publicly since Friday, when he arrived at San Francisco International Airport from Washington.
The Associated Press contributed to this report