So we had the Kerry Rally yesterday, something that went off smashingly. One of the reasons I haven’t posted much lately is because I’ve been working hard on Kerry’s campaign, helping to set this event up from the veterans’ angle. But there was a big payoff–for me, anyway–in the end.
I drove up to Denver Sunday afternoon in order to help with final preparations for the event. I had hooked up with RS and TM, two of Sen. Kerry’s advance men, earlier, in order to let them know that I’d be willing to help with anything they’d want. The two of them didn’t waste any time employing me. Sunday was a controlled frenzy of setting up barriers (to control the crowd) and signage (to create the right visuals), and when I left at midnight, there was still a lot of setting up to do. But I had to bail, so that I wouldn’t be falling asleep on my feet the next day.
Yesterday morning, myself and about 15 other vets, mostly from Vietnam, had the chance to greet him when he came off the plane. The Kerry campaign plane is actually quite attractive, and as soon as I get my pictures of it, I’ll post them.
At any rate, we were arrayed in an receiving line at the foot of the stairs. Sen. Kerry came bounding out, and he looked tanned and rested. He shook our hands, chatted with us briefly, and then he was off to Aspen for a “private lunch” (read: HUGE fundraiser).
First impression: Sen. Kerry is one TALL man. I mean, seriously tall. And he looks younger in person than on television.
From there, I headed off to the Denver Civic Center in order to continue working the rally. And that’s when the rain started to really fall. Lacking an umbrella, I got soaked, and ended up having to wear a raincoat.
But the crowd, which was fast arriving at the Center, was extremely enthusiastic.
As I’m helping out with the crowd, RS comes running up to me and says, “We need a vet to do the pledge. Come with me.” And away I went. Turns out they have an Iraq war vet lead the crowd at most events in the Pledge of Allegiance. I was quickly ushered backstage, and found myself looking at Gary Hart. I had my picture taken with him, and I have to say, Sen. Hart’s a rather imposing man, and I didn’t find him to be a chilly man at all. Luis, you’ll be interested to hear that he looked in fine shape, and that Sen. Kerry and him spent a long time prior to the event chatting with one another.
And then…and then, Sen. Kerry showed up. And here’s the payoff–I got to spend at least five minutes chatting with him. Contrary to my expectations, John Kerry was enormously relaxed and calm. And even though this is based on just a five-minute conversation, I think he’s just about the most self-confident man I’ve ever met. If this election comes down to a debate or two in October, Sen. Kerry’s going to win.
We didn’t chat about anything serious; he asked me about my military service, and I told him. And we talked about Iraq a little bit, but it was mostly informal and relaxed. He jogged in place right before we went on stage, and had a smile for everyone. Then we went out (John Kerry, myself, and Chris Chappell), and saw him deliver a good speech.
And that’s about it. The rally went well, but if you were watching the news, you know that already.