Yesterday was a first time thing for me--Son and I (Daughter was home sick; Mrs. Freeholder wasn't interested) went to a political rally at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds for McCain/Palin. Of course, I went because Sarah Palin was the speaker. Hey, I'm a sucker for the hotties. :-)
There were also a number of local candidates there, as well as former Sen. Bob Dole, who was serving double duty, campaigning for his wife Elizabeth as well as for John McCain. Dole was able to humanize McCain for the audience, telling stories about the times the two served together in the Senate.
The media quotes and attendance of 5500, and while I can't be sure, my guess would be substantially higher. The parking lots were full at the fairgrounds, and we waited in line 2 1/2 hours to get in. We were at the tail end of those admitted--everyone else had to stay outside and listen over speakers.
The wait in line was pleasant, since both the weather and the company were good. Ahead of us were two local guys, working stiffs basically, who had seen McCain earlier in the week at Fayetteville and who wanted to see Palin as well. Behind us was a Duke student from Florida, and behind him three very friendly ladies. The group of us had a great time discussing politics. Interestingly enough, we didnt' totally agree with each other, but we were able to do it in a way that no one got PO'd. Funny how that works out in the more conservative circles.
There were plenty of places to buy campaign memorbila for those so inclined. I'm still scratching my head a bit over the staffers, since most of them were black or young and tatooed/pierced, and all were McCain supporters. Odd, the media says those groups are for Obama. Maybe they got lost.
Once inside, the rally was pretty much what you'd expect--light on details, long on red meat. While Palin was definately the star of the show, a relocated New Hampshire native, now living in Cary--Mike the Plumber--came close to stealing it. Before Palin arrived, Mike had the opportunity to speak his mind in plain terms to the crowd. Short version: Keep your greedy government hands out of my pockets and stop trying to redistribute what I've worked so hard to earn. Needless to say, that message was met with applause and cheers.
Palin's speech seemed to be pretty much the same stump speech we've been hearing in sound bites for the last couple of weeks. Still, it was delivered with enthusiasm and vigor, and we all ate it up. I did note something that I hadn't heard in any soundbite--two shout outs about our Second Amendment rights. The lady definately gets the joke in that area. I have to wonder if the McCain campaign has noticed the coalescence of the gunny vote around him, and have started playing to the crowd a bit more.
Another point she really went after was not believing the "inevitability of Obama" (my words, not hers). She pointed out that the polls are all over the map, but that those that have historically been most accurate are pointing toward a tie. That matches up with what I've seen as well. This election will likely be a squeaker. She cautioned that this is not the time to slack off, and defiantly not the time to surrender.
She also made that "surrender" point about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan--that now was not the time to surrender, with the wars nearly won.
So there you have it--a first hand report, minus the media filtering.