There was a pretty exciting event in my town here in northwest Ohio this past Thursday! This was the first time that a presidential candidate came to speak in my city since Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was quite an honor for the town!
Let me first say that John McCain is not my candidate. This does not take away from the fact that this was something very special for my town, and I am reporting about the impact of the rally on myself and the city. Anything I say would have been the same if it had been Obama who visited. I will not entertain any criticism of my choice of candidate, nor will I allow any political quarrels on my blog. I saw that happen on another person's blog, and I am just not going there. If you want to debate who is the best candidate, then take that to a forum made for that. Freedom of speech is a very good thing, but my blog isn't about politics. Therefore, I am moderating comments for this post.
That being said, let's get on with the story!
Last week, the paper announced that we would have a presidential candidate come to our city and make a speech! I don't know why my town was chosen, but everyone was buzzing with excitement. This seemed to be something very last minute, so everything had to be put into place very quickly. I can say that my city rose to the occasion and handled everything very well. Tickets were given away at area Republican headquarters. A location was chosen. Not sure how they decided our middle school, which is located on a state route in a residential area and very near the downtown was chosen, but that's where they decided to hold the rally! I really do think that it would have been better to have him speak out at the mall or at the college or high school football stadium. There really was no place to park around the school!
The morning before, big semi trucks full of equipment were parked on the road and on the school grounds and they were already unloading equipment. These pictures are not mine, but were found online and in the local newspaper. One of the photographers is named Amy McCarty, another is Jim Schoch. I want to give credit where it is possible.
Secret Service men were casing our town and the schools days in advance. They even went to all the homes surrounding the school and searched the homes, making sure there were no weapons present. While I understand the need for safety, I don't think I would like the government coming into my home like that.
The day of the rally, people were lining up as early as 7:00 a.m. McCain was not scheduled to speak until 10:00 a.m. We had low temps that night, and I woke up to 24 degrees with a hard frost on the ground. I heard from someone at work who was granted a press pass, that all press had to be present at 5:00 a.m. to meet with the Secret Service and to get security clearance. He said that the stages that had been set up the night before were as slick as ice from the frost!
The entire student body attended the rally. There are about 1000 high school students alone! They all had to go through security and metal detectors. I saw some comments in forums that criticized the district for sending their students, but no one was forced to go. They were allowed to stay home at their parents' request or high schoolers could stay at the school. I agreed with the superintendent who said that despite your political party, this should be seen as an historic event that students actually had a chance to be a part of. I think its a great lesson to be part of the political process! I told my son to be respectful and be a good representative of his high school. Some students from other districts in the county attended as well.
I did not get to attend the rally. I had to work, and I had a group to facilitate at the same time McCain was scheduled to speak. I gave myself plenty of time to get to work in case traffic was tied up. The rally was only 3 blocks from my workplace. I had no trouble getting to work, but there were no parking spaces in our lot! People from the rally ignored our signs and parked there anyhow. I had to drive around searching for someplace to park, and finally found one 4 blocks away. What is so ironic is that it was less than half a block from the rally! I was very close to the rally and could see parts of it, and could hear the school bands playing. I really was very strongly tempted to skip work and check out the excitement!
Here is another pic of the rally. Can you see the snipers on top of the building at the right side? That flag was really big, probably two stories tall! They had to hang it from a crane.
Here is another view of the flag. Beautiful! This is one of the photos by Ms. McCarthy.
Although they gave away over 9000 tickets, they estimated that only 6000 were in attendance. My guess is that it was too cold for some people. Or maybe they couldn't find a parking space. Heh.
As at any rally, there were representatives from the opposing party. There was a person walking around downtown selling both Obama and McCain t-shirts! I guess his political affiliation was with the "Just Make Money" party.
McCain, his wife Cindy, and their daughter (not picture) arrived and he spoke for about 20 minutes. City and county leaders had spoken before he got there.
I thought that it was pretty great that such a positive spotlight was on our town that day. My city was described in the media as "picturesque."
Just to set a couple things straight. McCain called out for Joe the Plumber during his speech, and to his embarrassment, Joe wasn't there. There was a big hullabaloo about being stood up by Joe the Plumber, but that wasn't the case at all. Joe wanted to be there and had been contacted by McCain's organizers, but then they failed to call him back to make final arrangements. Then his organizers forgot to tell McCain. He really did want to be there and did NOT stand up the candidate. In fact, he was picked up by staffers later that day and was with McCain for his second speech of the day. McCain spoke in at least 3 Ohio cities on Thursday.
Don't forget to vote Tuesday!