McCain/Palin Rally in Cedar Rapids

Rally1 I arrived on scene about an hour and a half before the event was to start.  The traffic along I-380 was starting to get dicey as folks in vehicles were waiting in line to enter the parking area and wait there for a shuttle to the airplane hanger where the rally will take place.

The McCain campaign set up tables and chairs and erected a white tent outside the hanger and relegated local print and radio reporters like yours truly outside. This is my view of the stage (hint:  as you can see from the photo, I cannot see the stage).

I stood along the barriers erected to separate the media area from the crowd and chatted with a few folks and it seems as if McCain is sort of superfluous today.  Bill & Bonnie Hammel of Dubuque are here.  "There’s a certain excitement here.  I think she’s revved up the Republicans and people are looking for change, but they want real change.  She’s the only outsider running and I might be so bold to say, the most experienced.  Most of our presidents were governors," Bill Hammel said.  His wife, Bonnie, wouldn’t have been as excited about voting for McCain if Palin hadn’t been on the ticket.  "To me, she’s down home. I can related to her.  I’ve got five kids.  She has five kids….I think she can change, you know like everyone else has been in 20 years or more and she hasn’t."

Bill Meek of Montezuma drove over to see Palin.  "That’s probably true of a lot of folks," Meek said.  "McCain made an excellent choice."

There was a bit of consternation among some Cedar Rapidians that McCain and Palin are just making a fly in, fly out visit and won’t be going to see the flood damage here.  Donna Martinson works in a building in downtown Cedar Rapids.  "They can only be in so many places.  It doesn’t matter to me that they didn’t tour," Martinson said. She also was among the folks who Caucuses for McCain.  "I think it’s his time and he’s earned it," she said.

Mickey Burgess of Springville told me Palin made the difference for her. "I’m hoping that they will do something different. They’re saying they’re going to, that they’re going to stir things up," Burgess said of McCain/Palin.  "(My husband and I) think that these senators and congressmen should not have lifelong terms.  We think they should only be allowed to serve two terms like the president."

I pointed out to her McCain has served more than eight years in the U.S. Senate. "But I just think that we need new blood.  Yes, he’s been in there a long time," Burgess replied.  "But actually what me really look towards him was Sarah and I hope she can shake things up."

Buel Smith of Farmington in far southern Iowa got up at 4:30 this morning to get to the rally. "We’re just hoping," Smith said of the McCain/Palin ticket.

An invocation was given at 10:04 a.m.  Other items of regular business at these kinds of rallies were conducted.  A few local candidates were given time to speak to the crowd, as McCain and Palin aren’t here.  At 10:25 a.m., McCain’s Iowa campaign chairman, Dave Roederer, told the crowd the pair are 15 minutes away.   

Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the Repubican running in the second congressional district, is talking now. At 10:45 a.m. the crowd was urged by Roederer to practice chanting, "We want John.  We want Sarah."  From the audio feed I’m getting I can hear that the wind blew something over on the stage.  I don’t know what it was as I’m still outside.

The Top Gun soundtrack began playing just about the time McCain’s plane arrived.  Shortly after 11 o’clock (an hour late), McCain and Palin took the stage as the Garth Brooks song "Standing Outside the Fire" played and the crowd cheered. 

"We want Sarah," the crowd began chanting as Palin said, "Thank you," to begin the rally.

"Thank you so much Iowa, it is so good to be in Grand Rapids," Palin said.  OOOPS.  She’s in Cedar Rapids.  Palin mentioned Iowa’s new hockey team (it’s to play its games in Des Moines).  "I love that name.  The Chops.  That’s cool….You guys have your first game so perhaps I’ll get to come back and visit with some more hockey moms for McCain."

A handful of young women have emerged, escorted by official looking folks; they’re apparently protestors.  "My body, my choice," they’re chanting as surrounded by police and a couple of TV cameras.  "Go back to school," a man in the back of the crowd yelled at the women.

Palin mentioned the flood about 12 minutes into her speech, saying she and McCain would visit some of the damaged neighborhoods today before they leave (change of plan).  "Congress has not done enough to help this region recover.  In a McCain/Palin administration, we will not forget," Palin promised.

McCain starts speaking 18 minutes into the rally.  He begins by reminiscing about the State Fair. "I’m very grateful to be here.  We intend to campaign hard across the state of Iowa again…I think we’re going to be up late on Election Night, my friends, and we’re going to need your help."

I look up, about five minutes into McCain’s address and see a steady stream of people walking out of the rally.  They just came to see Palin apparently.

At 11:38 a.m. a group of peace protetors starts, well, protesting.  They are escorted out and the crowd boos them.  "All we are saying is give peace a chance," one of them sings as he’s escorted out on a route that takes him by the local press tent.

"The one thing that Americans want us to do is to stop yelling at each other," McCain quipped, then resumed his speech and quickly wrapped it up.  Speeches by McCain/Plin lasted a little less than 35 minutes.

UPDATE:  If you want to listen to the speeches and read the Radio Iowa story, here’s the link.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. “Most of our presidents were governors,” Bill Hammel said.
    Actually only 19 of our 42 Presidents have been Governors — and 3 of them for less than two years.
    If anyone’s interested, perhaps they should check out the ‘experience’ levels of our former (and current) Presidents:

  2. Did Palin mention whether anything in American “needed some fixin'”?

  3. If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate’s Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran’s Affairs committees, you don’t have any real leadership experience.
    * If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you’re qualified to become the country’s second highest ranking executive and next in line behind a man in his eighth decade.

  4. melvin a go go says

    I am afraid ole Sarah gave away the superficiality of it all with “Grand Rapids.”
    If you want substance, you didn’t get it. I am surprised there was no talk of being a POW or being a foreign policy expert because you can see Russia from Alaska. Iowa: if this is what you want, have at it, but it will continue the destruction of many things you hold dear. McCain = Bush III, or actually worse.

  5. Sarah Palin was introduced to the American people in such a way that it is easy to take what she says at face value. here are the 3 articles about Palin — i think worth a read when you get a chance….
    New York Times
    Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes
    Sarah Palin’s wasteful ways
    The pastor who clashed with Palin

  6. speakinmymind says

    why don’t those people just admit that they won’t vote for a Black man…that’s what it boils down too. I’d rather they just come out and say it (if they’re so proud of their choice!) than give a bunch of bogus, unsubstantiated “reasons”. The Republicans are depending on “typical” White people such as these whose prejudices run so deep that rational thought or researching a candidate never even enters their decision making process. It’s as simple as “he/she’s white so they’re right!”
    And people wonder why Black people in this country still feel racism is alive and well…

  7. If Palin is the only thing the McCain camp has, then they are running on fumes.
    ….like an old Ford Maverick.
    It’s over.

  8. Carol Bellows says

    Don’t forget to mention that they did not tour any flood damage before heading off to their next campaign event.

  9. Did the woman really say that she could relate to Palin because she has five kids and Palin has five kids; and because she has never been to Washington she can change things? The country is at war, the economy is bankrupt, Palin has lied or embellished her reformer in Alaska story and she has an abuse of power scandal– which she won’t cooperate with authorities about and the woman in Iowa thinks Palin can bring change and is willing to vote for her because because she and Palin both have 5 kids. The poor woman interviewed probably doesn’t have a job and yet she is willing to vote for mccain/palin because she can relate to having 5 kids. I bet palin has insurance for, is able to feed, and can provide designer cloths for all 5 of her kids; the question is can this lady in Iowa say the same? Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results; we have had 8 years of lies and corruption–are we insane?

  10. Jerry/Orlando says

    Two words: Obama/Biden

  11. Palin is a flash in the pan.
    What no questions to answer? I want to hear more about fungible coal and oil and flagging molecules where they are going and where they are not. Wait now I bet she knows more than anyone in the good old USA about molecular biology.
    What a joke. Wake up people the dream is over!

  12. Man it is so sad when you have people like that explain the reason that they are voting for McLame…just because Palin has 5 kids like he does.. and he HOPES that she will shake things up…. good luck with that!!! I have to tell you Americans are dumber then a bag of rocks. I can’t beleive how the republicans have done this crap to us and yet they still want to vote for Palin because she has 5 kids. Hey Buddy have you taken a look at your 401K statement…. check that and then rethink your reason for voting. I mean we count on americans to use their heads for something other then a hat rack and clearly they have no clue!! it is embarrassing at times to listen to such bull. The fact the people were leaving during MClames speech is…..

  13. You’re linked in HuffPo — you go, girl!

  14. Nice droll take. Felt I was there. Rang very true. Gave me some hope for the ‘other guys.’

  15. Good people of Iowa. When did honesty and taking responsibility for yourself become become of such little value that McCain and palin can actually draw a crowd in your state.
    I’m an Illinois farm boy and what I was taught was not to trust politicians in genral and to get passionate in disliking the politicians who lie to us.
    Its easy enough to look up the resord on the republicans running this year and as a 50 year old republican I am saying that these two are not fit to be in office.
    Good grief folk this guy has been the most ardant anti regulation man in DC for 25 years and now you just gloss that over for his silly promise?
    We can do better then this mcCain/Palin ticket for our country. For me and for you please think.

  16. I wonder how people felt about Palin not knowing which city she was in?
    Did anyone tell them that McCain doesn’t know Spain is in Europe?

  17. It is McINsane’s fault….
    in trying to be clever he has chosen the wrong VP…….
    now we want Palin at the top of the ticket and if he really were to put country first….he would step aside and let her run for President
    After all she will become so the moment something happens to him and…….happen it will !!!!!
    ready for Palin ? well , he chose her
    he has to live with his decision
    She is more attractive as a candidate
    so, do the right thing McCain
    let her run for the highest office

  18. Alot more of this coming the more we begin to see the two of them lie, lie, lie……..they are done like dinner.

  19. I think it’s time for McCain to upgrade. Palin needs to disappear, new model??? Nancy whatever her name is of the camp. She lies, but smarter.

  20. Wow. Bill Maher is right, most Americans are too stupid to vote.
    I don’t say it to be mean, but let’s get real. If John McCain had picked a black woman with 5 kids to be his running mate – one who had graduated college after 6 schools, one of which she had flunked out of, and who had admitted using drugs, as Palin has, and was leaving a pregnant 17 yr old daughter and disabled infant behind while she runs for national office, would ANY of these people be there cheering for her?
    Of course not.
    She is literally their not-so-great White Hope.

  21. She also said she gave birth to Trig 4 months ago and it was 5 months ago. Somebody please remind her how old her son is.

  22. Lest people outside of the Hawkeye State get carried away lumping us all with the Palin crazy fools in Cedar Rapids it bears mentioning that Iowa is pretty much off the table for McCain. He now trails Obama 52-40.

  23. Iowa,
    Don’t you remember voting for G.W.B. 4 years ago because “he’s the kind of guy you’d most like to have a beer with”? Do you really think the fact that she has 5 children and is a “regular” person makes the slightest bit of difference? Get real. Get some sense. How many times are you going to let them pull the wool over your eyes?

  24. If Sarah Palin (or George Bush for that matter) are qualified to be VP or President, why do we even bother with elections? Let’s just put the names of everyone who lives in the country in a hat and draw a name at random. The result would be just as good.

  25. Palin makes the conservative, neocon Republican base very happy.
    And, pretty much no one else.
    However, the vast majority of the rest of us Americans just see Palin as a small town has-been runner-up beauty queen. Little intelligence, little commonsense, and whole lot of right-wing self-importance.
    Her honeymoon with the American people lasted about a week.
    Once most Americans got to know her, they saw her as the hypocritical fraud that she is.
    Additionally, most Americans (both Dems, Repubs, and Independents) are angry at McCain for putting such a bubble head in a position to harm this country.
    With so many other, actually qualified Republican women available, McCain chose one who would better fit a beauty palor.

  26. I just don’t understand people like that woman who can relate to Palin.
    I can relate to my neighbor. Our husbands work together, we trade babysitting, she coaches her daughter’s soccer team, we go shopping together, etc.
    She was a manager in a large company before she was a mom. She has a master’s degree in business. She volunteers at our kids’ school.
    But I wouldn’t vote for her for VP and in all likely hood pressidet within 4 years.
    We are trying to select someone to run this country. We aren’t in the middle of a disney move come to life where the plucky, small town beauty queen takes on the big guys and ends up leader of the free world.
    Are we really this dumb as a country? If so, God have mercy on us.

  27. Stinks to High Heaven says

    People need to stop comparing Palin to Obama. You ***will*** get what you deserve if you keep it up.
    All it does is point out their equivalency in terms of time on the national stage. And, like it or not, their equivalency in terms of EXPERIENCE.
    Being a PART TIME law LECTURER, and a PART TIME legislator in a crowded state deliberative body is not the same as being a leader of a town or state of ANY size. The dynamics of leadership (which are NOT a part of the “rigors” *cough* of representation, sorry, but that is the truth–a couple of staffers and an office where one reads and decides, or not– on legislation–mostly written by others, with one’s name addded on AFTER THE FACT–isn’t the same as running a city or a state) are FAR more onerous. And closer to full time than anything Obama ever did.
    The departmental responsibilities and management of any executive position, regardless of size, are the same; you’re dealing with personnel and payroll, fire and public safety; maintenance of infrastructure; budgets, natural disasters and events (in Alaska, you’d better understand “public works” and “snow removal”) etc., etc., and, at the governor level, a national guard….
    The more you denigrate Palin, the more you ASK FOR, no, BEG FOR, comparisons between a guy who spent a lousy 143 days in the US Senate doing his first “full time” job in years before he tired of that and decided to run for President, and a woman who, no matter what the size of her governments, was actually “governing”–not just saying “aye,” or “no” or the always useful uhhhhh, uhmmmmmmmm….”present.”
    Unless Barack is running as Biden’s VP, all those who insist on these Obama-Palin comparisons are doing is pushing Obama, in a de facto way, down the ticket to the second banana slot, denigrating him as a candidate, as if they somehow liken him to the “Front Negro” who is a “show candidate” with Biden doing the “real work” because Mister Affirmative Action, likened to Miss Gender Preference, is INCAPABLE of doing the work himself.
    That IS what YOU–not me or anyone else, YOU–do when you make fun of Palin by comparing her to Obama.
    Don’t like that truth? Wanna yell at me and call me partisan names now?
    Sorry, it is what it is. It isn’t McCain’s people who are doing it, either–it’s OBAMA’s supporters. Over and over again, on every blog I visit, far right to far left and back again. It’s OBAMA supporters who keep making the contrast between Palin and Obama.
    And that’s …. well, INTERESTING.
    When (or if–but the trend is WHEN) Obama gets his ass handed to him in November, it won’t be racism that does him in–it’s the fact that he wasn’t ready in the first place, and his supporters, by repeatedly comparing him to PALIN, the second fiddle on the GOP team, are essentially saying this very thing.
    The upshot and the irony is this: theRepublican term, “The soft bigotry of low expectations” is being played out in this race–by the DEMOCRATIC supporters.
    It’s time someone admitted the obvious and stopped pussyfooting around this plain fact.
    For what it’s worth, I think both teams of candidates suck, so don’t whine to me about how I’m being mean to your hero or I’m a Republican stoolie–I’m a 38 year registered Democrat who is ready to switch my affiliation to INDEPENDENT after this election, because I think both parties are jerks who have lost their damn minds.
    A pox on both their houses.

  28. As a lifelong Republican…there’s no way I can vote for McCain Palin. Our country is in too much trouble to put it in the hands of a Washington insider and an inexperienced small town politician. As a Christian I admire Palin but as a Republican I am ashamed. I think I’m gonna sit this one out or write-in for Mitt Romney.

  29. This reporter deserves to be flogged…. Palin referred to a Palin-McCain ticket before the old gyser took over the mike… strange that this reporter picked up on Plain mistaking Cedar Rapids for Grad Rapids, but omitting the biggest blunder of the year…Sarah’s ambitions to be on top on the ticket….

  30. To put it bluntly Sarah Palen sucks don’t know why any woman would vote for her no matter what you believe.

  31. I think referring to Des Moines’s Iowa Chops instead of the Cedar Rapids own hockey team, the RoughRiders, is as insulting as getting the city wrong. Cedar Rapids isn’t some suburb of Des Moines. She might as well have mentioned the Quad City Flames, which are actually closer to CR than the Chops.
    I guess they’re not trying too hard since nobody is even counting Iowa in the top tier of swing states where the election is closest anymore. As mentioned earlier, Obama was leading 52-40 in one poll, which is even bigger than his lead in Illinois.

  32. Here’s a fantastic idea. For a mere $5 you can let the McBush folks know what you think.
    Here’s all you do (if you don’t believe in Palin’s platform):
    Make a $5 minimum donation to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin’s
    name. A Planned Parenthood donation is tax deductible, while a
    political donation isn’t.
    And when you make the donation in Palin’s name, they’ll send her
    a card noting that the donation was given in her name.
    Here’s the link to the “in honor of” donation link on the Planned Parenthood website
    Fill in the address to let Planned Parenthood know where to send the “in Sarah
    Palin’s honor” card. Use the address for the McCain campaign
    McCain for President/Sarah Palin
    1235 S. Clark Street
    1st Floor
    Arlington, VA 22202
    Feel free to send this along to all your women friends as well
    as your men friends and urge them to do the same.

  33. I have to weigh in on Sarah Palin.
    I figure you know how people will do by looking at what they’ve done before. When Palin was elected Mayor of Wasilla, the town was debt free. When she left office six years later, Wasilla was over $22 million in debt. They had a new sports complex — which started losing money the year it was built and kept on losing money. Under Palin’s guidance, the town built the complex on land the city didn’t actually own! It took seven years (and a bunch more money) to clear up the mess she left behind.
    I figure that the other way to know what someone is really like is to ask people who know her. When Lyda Green, the Republican president of the Alaskan State Senate, was told that Palin was McCain’s VP pick, she said, “She’s not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?”
    I could go on. I wish I could like Sarah Palin, I really do. If only she weren’t such a politician — she talks about how she hates earmarks after getting millions and millions of buck for Alaska through earmarks, she talks about fiscal reform but she charged the state of Alaska for a travel allowance for hundred of days when she was staying in her own home. Hey, she’s great with a rifle and she gives a good speech. But given her record, I think she’d be a disaster as a VP.
    Too bad McCain made such a lousy pick.

  34. Wow! what a crowd and great rally. I am Hillary Clinton girl, but will vote for Palin this election. I am excited to see a woman on the ticket. Its about time!

  35. IREnee I Phelps says

    You people have really gave Sarah a swelled big head. She announce that the Palin/McCain ticket needs your support at a rally. She knows she is drawing the crowds and forgot that she was in the #2 spot. Keep cheering for her; she just might walk right on in being the pres. Then she will look at her stupid husband and say I can’t believe this , can you; oh whatever we will shake up washington and get rid of the good old boys homey like we did in Alashi. Can you believe this.

  36. IREnee I Phelps says

    Hey Guys and Gals; Sarah announced at the rally that the Palin/McCAin ticket needs there support. She has gotten a big head with all the screaming of her name, etc. She really believes she is the #1 person on the ticket. I guess you people out there made her think this. It’s a shame Poor old JOhn has to take the back seat in his own campagin. He selected her and now she is overshadowing him. He don’t want to pull her back because he won’t draw the crowds. If he let her go on her own; he will be embarassed with his crowd compare to hers. But the american women are not stupid to fall for the woman who wants to rise to the top anway she can. Puting her career first. She could care less about those 5 kids that you women can relate to her because you got 5. I hope you do a better job with yours and give them what they need. some attention….the little girls is starving for her attention; just look at her, running bvehind her. The stupid whimp of a father do not have sense to pick her up or keep her close to him. He is just a whimp that this woman controls. But itis not about him….you other whimps out their probably can relate to him

  37. I wonder if any of these Palin fans watched her interview with Charles Gibson and actually heard what she said – or if they were too impressed by her eyewear to get the gist. I could picture Biden’s head exploding when she said that we shouldn’t second guess our allies if they acted in ways that could embroil our armed forces in a military conflict. Three times she said it! Good grief! Biden and any thinking American would certainly second, third and fourth guess our allies and set them straight in a heartbeat if he thought they were wrong. And he’d tell them in no uncertain terms that we weren’t getting dragged willy-nilly down some nutty path because they were going overboard. If that bothers some folk, think of this – America is in OUR hands and WE run it – not our allies, for heaven’s sake.
    I’m sorry, but Palin lacks too much to be 2nd in line as leader of our country and our representative world-wide. She obviously hasn’t chosen to seriously study foreign policy until her pick as VP and her judgement seems light-weight and rather flip regarding military endeavors that could have dire consequences. She said herself within the last year or two that she had been too busy to pay much attention to the Iraq war. That is telling, don’t you think? With the world situation as complex as it is, we can’t afford the time for her to catch up on her studies and political maturity. After the last 8 years we should certainly know better than to elect someone with so little curiosity and gravitas again.

  38. Just saw a link to Radio Iowa on AmericaBlog. Way to go!

  39. Rodger Lemonde says

    I think that those who really love Sarah Palin should write her in for president. Who needs the mouldy old guy?

    Obama supporters are foolish to think that he will never betray them.
    Obama was a close friend of Pastor Wright for TWENTY YEARS.
    Obama threw Wright under the bus for personal ambition.
    McCain would not betray his country even after 5 years of torture.
    You can put lipstick on a traitor, but he’s still a traitor.

  41. “Wow! what a crowd and great rally. I am Hillary Clinton girl, but will vote for Palin this election. I am excited to see a woman on the ticket. Its about time!
    Posted by: Christina b | Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 10:13 PM
    Christina, your not a Hillary Clinton girl if you’re going to vote for Palin. If you’re voting because shes a female, please don’t vote. It’s people like you, who vote for reasons that don’t matter when it comes down to it, that screw the rest of us that vote on issues ect.

  42. Gabriel Pipo says

    McCain just don’t get it. He’s a Republican
    running against the Republican Platform, just to get elected. Talk about traitors.
    Palin is nothing more than in her own words:
    a pitbull with lipstick. When Slick Willie
    left office, we had good times and a balanced budget. We put the Republicans in
    charge of all three house for next 6 years
    and look at the wonderful job they have done. This is just not Washington, it is
    a failed Republican agenda. Pad the pockets
    of the fat-cats and screw the common worker,
    with the trickle down bullshit theory.

  43. wow, McCain’s nick name given by his fellow tortured prisoners was songbird McCain. So don’t say he wouldn’t betray his country.

  44. A Female Not Fooled says

    McCain’s pick of Palin sealed the vote for this former PUMA…for Obama! It was like a jarring, cold slap in the face the day Palin was announced. There is NO WAY no matter how disappointed I am Hillary isn’t the nominee I could vote for McCain now. He could not have picked a more Far Right Winger. Talk about someone who stands for EVERYTHING opposite of what Hillary did, YIKES!

  45. Great post, very interesting info. Thanks