What a day! Yesterday, we drove from Greenville to Columbia to Charleston to enjoy the official announcement tour, and enjoy we did. We planned to live blog from the tour stops, but got swept up in the frenzy and decided to just enjoy the moment and reflect later. But following the Charleston stop we had a long drive ahead and “later” became this morning.
Looking back on the day – a day which will have us fired up for months to come – it seems impossible to capture in words just what it was like to be there yesterday, in Greenville, Columbia and Charleston, and to feel the excitement and electricity palpitating through the crowds. Each was unique in composition, yet similar in vivacity.
The only downside was that, at both of the first two stops, we arrived a mere 30 minutes before McCain spoke. We thought that would afford us enough time to find a good spot, but by the time we made our way inside we were stuck in the back of the pack (it wasn’t until Charleston that we were able to get close enough to shake his hand – and that was only because we made sure to get there more than an hour early).
When McCain took the stage, he looked relaxed and refreshed. He greeted the crowds like a young child greeting the Christmas tree for the first time on Christmas morning. As he delivered each of the three speeches, he hit home on numerous points and reminded everyone in the room of the importance of the 2008 presidential election.
More than anything, McCain’s hope for Iraq and the ever-present reminders that “he’s been there,” resonated at each stop. As people exited each of the events, we overheard fleeting snippets of conversations. Words like “common sense,” “hero,” “experience,” and “conservative” were commonplace.
And the underlying theme to each event, the one thing that bound the message together more than anything else, however unintentional, was that for John McCain, this is not about winning an election. For John McCain, what truly sets him apart from of the rest of the field, Republican or Democrat, is that 2008 is about saving America.
Inevitably, while America’s future was foremost on everyone’s mind, in the back of their minds almost everyone was hoping for the same thing: a chance to meet Sen. John McCain, even if just for a brief moment.
But while all three speeches were great, these events were so much more. These three events WERE McCain people in the heart of what has become McCain country. These three events were the re-invention of an entire movement.
We have been involved in South Carolina politics for a while now, and we have seen a number of presidential primaries. It is safe to say that we haven’t seen anything like this in a long time; at least not since the 2000 Straight Talk Express stops. The 2008 version is picking up a whole lot of speed and we can’t wait to see what’s at the next stop!