Saturday, November 1, 2008

This Blog Post Has No Agenda

I promise. And that's not a politician's promise either. I do not affiliate myself with any particular political party. I simply want to share my experiences, which were the first of this kind for me.

Last Saturday, a friend called and asked if I would want to go to hear Sarah Palin speak in nearby Fort Wayne, Indiana. "You betcha!
" LOL.

The doors opened at 4:00, but we arrived at the Allen County Memorial Coliseum at 2:45 and there was already a long line forming that wound around the south side and started snaking around the parking lot. It was a windy and chilly 47° and we stood in it for over three hours. The security check was taking quite a bit of time, so the line moved slowly.

All the available tickets had been given out (7800) and there were VIP tickets in addition, which could be had for making campaign phone calls. (No thanks!) The time seemed to pass rather quickly though, because we chatted with others in line, discussing the election, the candidates, and the issues. There were interesting things to see as well.

Campaign signs...

Interesting t-shirts...

Campaign buttons...

Palin girls...

A patriotic family...

We noticed the large number of young people, which was heartening. There were lots of families with their children. Several members of our armed forces were standing in line with us. A couple of members of the Mad Ants basketball team and their mascot stopped by to say hi.

Once inside, we had to go through a security check, which involved opening our purses, removing our coats, watches, and any change in our pockets. We were required to turn on any electronics, such as our cell phone and camera. If they wouldn't turn on, they were taken if you still wanted to be admitted. We then walked through a metal detector and I was scanned with a wand because I caused the metal detector to beep. The metal button on my pants was the culprit.

We quickly took our seats and a short time later, local Republican officials gave short speeches. Then Hank Williams, Jr. took the stage and sang a few songs before introducing Sarah Palin.

With Piper leading the way, Sarah and her husband Todd, along with their older daughter Willow, walked down the runway to the stage. As you can imagine, the noise from the crowd was deafening.

Our seats were to the podium's right and though we weren't close enough for me to get good close-up photos with the zoom feature on my camera, the Jumbotron gave good views.

She spoke for 40 minutes, then she went into the crowd where she shook hands and signed a few autographs. We left while that was still going on. It was an exciting place to be, as the headlines indicated in Sunday morning's paper:

More images from the rally:

Unzoomed view from our seats

Indiana Loves Palin

Piper, Willow, and husband Todd

Just five days after the surprise of attending the Governor Palin rally, our older daughter texted me to say her boss had gotten her two tickets to attend a John McCain rally on Thursday, October 30th, in Defiance, where she and her husband live. This is just half an hour away from us and since her husband was able to get a ticket through his employer as well, she said I could use one of her tickets.

I decided to go up the night before and spend the night at Kara's, as did my niece Sarah, who was also attending the rally. Sarah's sister Renee drove up early the day of the rally and the four of us bundled up and headed downtown to get in line at 5:30 a.m.
Most people know I am a night owl but I can get up early when I have to. I don't stumble around like a zombie either. My feet hit the floor and my mouth flies open. LOL.

We got down there and no, we weren't the first in line. About thirty people were ahead of us in our line and there was another one on the other side of the blocked-off area with a similar number of people in it.

Unlike Governor Palin's rally on Saturday, this one was not to be held inside. With the rally not starting until 9:00 a.m., we had a 3½-hour wait in below-freezing weather (29° F). I was glad that I'd dressed for it.

They still had to set up the magnetrons for the security checks, so we watched that. The media had already arrived and were doing some filming and even some broadcasting already. Rick Small from the Defiance radio station WDFM was giving live reports and at one point walked over to us and interviewed the four of us. He had recognized Kara from the many times she'd been to the radio station doing ads for her company.

This sign was made by a lady in line behind us. She had to leave it outside the rally area, as no signs were allowed to be brought in.

The lines grew longer and we grew colder. But soon the sun was coming up and by a little after 8:00, we had gone through security and were standing before the stage, a mere twenty feet away from the podium. The Defiance High School band was playing, as well as that of Bryan High School and Paulding High School, with radio music blaring in between their numbers.

The media was gathered in their designated area on a raised platform behind us.

We observed security on the roofs of the buildings around us.

The atmosphere became more electric as officials arrived and took their places on stage. Soon, Secret Service did a final sweep and McCain's entourage, which included his wife Cindy and daughter Meghan, arrived to cheers and applause.

Our district's state representative, Bob Latta, introduced Mrs. McCain, who gave a short speech about why her husband should be the next President.

Mrs. McCain then introduced South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been McCain's best friend for the last 20 years.

Senators McCain and Lindsey Graham (R - South Carolina)

Senator Graham took the podium and announced that at that moment he was John McCain's "frozen friend," then spoke about why he believed that McCain was the best choice to become the next President of the United States.

When Senator McCain took the podium, it was clear that he was among friends at this rally, though there were Obama supporters just across the street. We did see some "Democrats for McCain" in the crowd. I didn't doubt that there were some Democrats that supported McCain just as there are Republicans supporting Obama, but this was the first time I'd seen any sign of formal public support.

McCain spoke for a little less than thirty minutes, then left the stage and shook hands in the crowd before leaving for his next campaign stop in Mentor, Ohio.
It was estimated that there were 10,000 people in attendance at this rally. Defiance has a population of about 16,000.

Other images from the McCain rally:

Tickets to the rally

"Hang On Sloopy" (O-H-I-O) - Ohio's Official State Song

Kara and me at the rally

Meghan and Cindy McCain

They must bring these large letters to every campaign stop. These say "VICTORY IN OHIO". At the rally with Governor Palin, they said "INDIANA (heart) PALIN".

After the rally

Media Row with satellite uplinks...and port-a-potties!

The foliage on the trees was gorgeous!

As I drove back home after the rally, I passed by the bald eagle's nest that's been high in a tree southwest of town for several years. It seemed appropriate at this election time of year that I saw the eagle sitting in its nest.


Cindy Garber Iverson said...

I love this post! We don't get these kind of rallies in our area because the politicians assume it's a slam-dunk liberal vote so neither party spends a lot of time here. Like you, I'm not affiliated with either political party but I'm a HUGE proponent of embracing the right to vote. And, yes, you seeing the bald eagle sitting in its nest seems very appropriate.


Anonymous said...

I'm the opposite of the poltical spectrum in this race, but I am glad you got to go to a rally. I was supposed to be inside for the Obama rally on Wednesday night but ended up leaving work an hour later than I was supposed to because I was waiting for a coworker. The line had to be 3/4 of a mile long, snaking around the parking lot of the Bank Atlantic Center, and was moving fairly fast when they let people in and then we hit a dead stop. They were at capacity.

The mood was great and it was just fun to be in the line! I think the whole political activities right now have everyone charged up and it is good to get people involved! I am glad to see so many people out there voting this year!

Lythrum said...

I would like to go to a political rally too, but I think Alabama is too decided for either to spend much time campaigning here.
Glad that you got to go!

Kylee Baumle said...

Cindy ~ We don't usually have these opportunities either, which is why I didn't want to pass them up! We are the epitome of small town USA, with not many large cities nearby, so both of these visits were a big deal. Michelle Obama was also in Ft. Wayne, but I didn't really have a desire to see her and I don't know anyone that went.

Misti ~ Oh how disappointing for you to not get in at the Obama rally! At the Palin rally, it was like that, too. At 8:00, when she started speaking, there were still about 5000 people out in the parking lot waiting to go through security and get in.
I know what you mean about it being fun just being in line! It was kind of a party atmosphere.
I am really not very politically involved, although I do make the effort to investigate the candidates and the issues. I think many people that never cared much about the elections have gotten energized and motivated this time. Very fun to watch and be a part of!

Lythrum ~ We are being bombarded with ads and mail here and I will be glad when THAT stops. But Tuesday will be a fun day, maybe a little nerve-wracking. Obviously I'm a McCain/Palin supporter, but whomever wins will have my prayers. It's a mammoth job and they'll need all the prayers they can get!

Kerri said...

Kylie, I love this post! It's great to see so many people getting involved and caring about the future of our country.
You're so lucky to have had these opportunities to attend the rallies.
As 'Rosehaven' commented, our state too (NY) is considered a slam-dunk liberal vote, so the politicians don't spend much time here. But hey, Reagan won it!
Seeing the eagle must've been the icing on the cake :)
The photo of you and Kara at the rally is just beautiful :)
Thanks so much for sharing these experiences. Your photos are almost as good as being there!

Sandy Hatcher-Wallace said...

Kerri showed me the way to your post and I love it too. Obama hasn't been in our state that I know of, but John McCain has been here several times. I'm hoping that our state will go for John McCain but we won't really know until after tomorrow.
You took some really great photos and thanks for sharing.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Kinda neat to see these people "up close" and in person. Lucky you, and patient you!

The Machiavellian said...

Great post and pictures!

Too bad our man and woman lost.

Maybe Palin in 12!

McCain and Palin visited Cincy several times.

Without Palin, I think McCain would have lost by a larger margin.

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