When I was a kid, my late father made it a point to take me to see every President. I don’t remember it, but clearly it had an effect on my adult interests. I saw Nixon, Ford, Carter. I’ve been to DC more often that Joe Biden has gaffed (well, more than he’s gaffed this month). Still, when the McCain/Palin campaign came to my hometown this week, I couldn’t resist. My gawd, it’s less than a mile away as the crow flies. This time, I took MY kids. They had a blast, and so did I.
I have to say, I had been told in advance by my partisan friends to watch out for rednecks, racists, nazis, neocons, and hate-mongerers of all sorts. The news reports about people at McCain rallies screaming about Obama being a Muslim, or crying out for his head, all that made me concerned. When I saw the internet video yesterday of the protesters trying to block the campaign convoy, I became very concerned. The web is swamped with reports of McCain supporters burning Obama in effigy, and of Obama supporters screaming like mobs against McCain supporters. At times it seems as if the tenor of supporters on both sides is reported as on the edge of armed insurrection.
Entering the rally, security was tight, but extremely friendly (mega compliments to the Secret Service and the Summit County Sherrif’s Dept!). There were 4 Obama supporters who stood where people crossed the street to get to the rally, but they were nice, waved to their neighbors, smiled, and McCain supporters smiled back. There was nothing at all combative about the setting. Quite the opposite. It was unusually friendly! Everyone seemed eager and happy to express their politics, and I didn’t even see any teasing or anything of the sorts.
The rally was held at a school football field, and it was poorly planned. It was clearly micromanaged. The Ohio McCain campaign did a nice job of having lots of people in the stands w red/white/blue shirts that made up a giant Ohio pennant. Unfortunately, that meant thousands of people didn’t get to be in the stands, and instead 3-4x as many people had to stand on the football field where there was essentially no view of the candidates. There were no monitors to see them either.
Making matters worse, the traveling press corps had bleachers setup in the middle of the field, and the supporters were literally sent to the sides and behind the press bleachers. This was very frustrating, and everyone on the field (thousands of us) were not pleased. The press is necessary, but they should have been farther away where they could use those $10,000 lenses which would have increased the appearance of the crowd in the pics. Instead, the crowd looks like a few hundred people, but there were thousands.
Note to McCain campaign, if you’re gonna have a rally, and thousands of people are coming, it’s a good idea to make it so those thousands of people can actually SEE the candidates!
One of the things I really wanted to do was check out the press and look for some famous faces or known writers. I didn’t see any. Not a one. Definitely a different attitude among the press people I spoke with though. They weren’t at all excited about watching thousands of people take part in the electoral process. Nope. To those people we were just props to a shot that would help continue or further their careers. America and the American people present were secondary at best. I wasn’t surprised except to actually see the rumors of media elite confirmed. It was frustrating. They walked without saying, “excuse me.” They never made eye contact if you look at them nicely. Up on their bleachers in the middle of the entire event, the drank their coffee, and both literally and figuratively looked down on us. More than once I saw cameramen and technicians look at us, laugh, and shake their heads.
Cindy McCain gave a very good speech, and was surprisingly rousing.
Sarah Palin gave a typical stump speech, but was rousing as well, and (to quote Alec Baldwin) is way hotter in person.
John McCain was on fire. Man, it was his stump speech w the modifications of the day, but at the end he went into a new part about fighting to get elected. It was the same kinda speech he gave at the convention, but fully enhanced, and given by a man who there can be no doubt does not quit. This guy is driven, and is a fighter. I was impressed-it was not as staccato as his usual teleprompter-reading. There was real fire there.
When they were done, Sen McCain and his wife left the stage and headed back to the Straight Talk Express. Gov Palin’s kids went too, but she and Todd stayed and shook every hand they could while the crowd melted away.
I took the opportunity to go from my distant spot on the field up to the stage, and got a few pics of the two. Then I went back to where I had been on the field, walked all the way around the damn press bleachers, over to the big bleachers, and found a spot where I could see a lot better. That’s where I got these pics.
As Gov Palin and Todd were walking out, the track was lined with kids from the High School Band (I was absolutely shocked at the number of high school kids there). She walked on a little more, then came over and gave a flute player a hug. I was right behind the girl, and someone reached out to shake Gov Palin’s hand. I did too, got a nice, “Thank you so much for coming,” and a handshake. Todd came over and did the same. It was pretty cool.
My take on the rally was that it was fun. Even an Obama supporter (if they brought an open-mind) would have found the tenor of the crowd nice-surprisingly nice. Walking out, we saw more Obama supporters had come out. They were all kids who were well-under 18, and it seemed to me they were there more to make a statement about being rebellious rather than pro-Obama. Still, even with all their yelling and screaming (there was maybe 10 of em), the crowd was nice, laughed with them, and they laughed back. There’s a certain surreal stupidity that comes with getting riled up over politics, and we all got that.
I had fun.
My wife and kids had fun,
and everyone had fun-well, except perhaps for the press corps. Nothing to report except people having a nice time and being involved in the electoral process. Good news is no news.
btw, my take on the Palins is that they were very Very nice people in talking w the crowd. They seemed very genuine, not elitist, and just the kinda people you’d hang out with. She was caring. Kids were adorable and not spoiled little brats, but well-behaved, and seemed to be having fun. Todd…well, if Todd was my neighbor I’d have him over for beers on Friday nights. He just seemed like that guy. Very nice people.
If you want to see these pics better, check out my facebook page. Scott Malensek