I went to the Edwards rally at the Teamsters Hall in OKC last night. It was the end of a tiring and frustrating day in which I blew a tire out on the interstate, and had to buy two new ones, and then when I finally got to the OCC office where I had some printing to do, the toner cartridge ran out before I was through.
I wasn't in the best mood, but I pushed myself to go anyway. I was pleasantly surprised to find a huge turnout for the event. I had to park at a nearby business, as did hundreds of other cars. I was one of the last to get into the building, as there was simply no more room for bodies, and a couple hundred folks (including my friend James) had to stand outside.
Well, being inside kept me out of the cold and wind, but it didn't do me much good otherwise. Short as I am, all I could see was the shoulders of the people in front of me. I did get a nice young man near me to take a photo with my camera, and that tiny figure in the center back, in front of the flag, I think that's Edwards. 😉
Anyway, he was introduced by some local Dems, including Debbie Leftwich, and union leaders. After some chanting, he came out and said that his oldest daughter Cate was with him. Then he launched into his standard stump speech.
I had been hoping to meet Elizabeth, but the way things went down, even if she'd been along on the trip, there wouldn't have been an opportunity to get close, certainly not chat.
He hit the major points of his campaign and I tried to pay attention to how the audience was responding to the various issues. It seemed to me that the two biggest applause lines were regarding college education costs and the Iraq war.
Organizers were collecting contact info of those who came in, though it was done in a very, shall we say, unaggressive fashion. If I hadn't been motivated to walk to the table and sign, I don't think anyone was pushing the idea.
Then, shockingly, the whole thing was over and folks were heading out the door without anyone asking for money! What the hell kind of campaign rally is that? I had made a contribution online in the morning, in order to participate in the grassroots effort initiated by KingOneEye at Daily Kos and News Corpse, but I was expecting to be asked for a donation, and planning to make one (albeit small).
I know most of those attending were floating in money, and many may have already contributed, but getting people to chip in makes them feel like a part of the campaign (and movement that Edwards says he's engaged in building). Not to mention it takes a lot of money to run for president. I'm just still flabbergasted about this. Is this typical? It just makes me very concerned about the campaign in general.
On the positive side: There was tons of local media there, which in any other town I would take as de rigeur, but not here. I would not have been shocked if the event had been as shunned by the corporate media as most of the “liberal” events I go to are. And even the Oklahoman published a rather routine accounting of the event, although I suppose their AP contract demands they file that kind of thing. I'll be looking for the followup editorial about what an angry liberal Edwards is, and that Oklahomans just aren't going to respond to such nonsense.
Here are some of the resulting stories I was able to find online:
- The Oklahoman (the online version doesn't have the photo they published in the dead tree edition)
- News 9 (with video)
- KOCO-5 (with video)
Note: The stories and videos at these links may be only available temporarily. If I find more I'll add to the list.
The Edwards' campaign website press release about this visit noted solid support in the state:
Edwards is the first Democratic presidential candidate to visit Oklahoma this year, and has won the endorsement of dozens of Oklahoma state legislators, including the highest-ranking Democrats in the Oklahoma State House and Senate – Oklahoma Senate President Pro-Tem Mike Morgan and Oklahoma House Democratic Leader Danny Morgan. Edwards also enjoys the support of more than 13,000 union families in Oklahoma, including the endorsement of the largest labor union in state, the Transport Workers Union. He has also won the support of Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Lloyd Fields.
“John Edwards can compete and win in Oklahoma and in every part of the country,” said Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Lloyd Fields. “All Americans identify with John Edwards and what he stands for