Friday, March 07, 2008

Wyoming turned topsy-turvy with Clinton caucus visit

Wyoming is a large state with a small population and a staunchly Republican electorate.

So it was more than a bit off-putting to see Bill Clinton - in Laramie - giving a stump speech to an overflowing crowd of supporters.*

Bill, campaigning on behalf of his wife and '08 presidential contender Hillary, spoke to a packed house at the University of Wyoming's Sports Complex. Of course, the place only holds about 1,200 people. I'm no expert, but I bet more than twice that number showed up.**

The question on everyone's lips as the line wrapped around multiple buildings was why the campaign didn't choose a bigger venue.

My theory is they didn't want to risk looking bad for delivering a fiery call to action to an unenthusiastic set of bleachers. But a rumor flying around the crowd said the Clinton campaign didn't want to pony up the extra cash to rent the far larger Arena Auditorium (which Obama has reserved for tomorrow night).***

Regardless of the reason, the complex was packed to the sardine gills.

Campaign folks set up an overflow room with a TV which, in turn, also overflowed. The remaining attendees were sent to the Fieldhouse (shown at right) where audio from Clinton's speech was piped in. Unfortunately, the audio there was so garbled that if you hadn't known, you wouldn't have been able to distinguish Bill from John McCain.****

Folks had been leaving in chunks as soon as it was announced the Complex was full. When the Fieldhouse audio stunk, that was the final straw for most. Others didn't give up so easily.

The Sports Complex is kind of a weird structure. The building is sunk into the ground with windows at ground level. At each corner of the building, you can look through the windows down onto the main stage/court area.

If that description makes no sense, look at the picture here that shows the windows from a distance.

At left is a picture of the hardcore folks who refused to just go home. Thanks to the podium positioning and the (alarming) absence of security, it was possible to catch a glimpse of the action - though eventually, a maintenance guy showed up and chased everybody off. Honestly, the audio through the glass was better than the stuff coming into the Fieldhouse.

So believe it or not, the fuzzy, hard-to-make-out figure speaking at the thing that looks like a podium is actually President Clinton. (Click on the image for a bigger, better view.)

There was a guy at the window with his son who insisted his kid take a peek before they headed for home.

Political views aside, you've gotta admit it's at least kinda cool to have a President in your town.

Tomorrow, Barack's coming.

A number of the disappointed people shut out of Bill's speech said they were planning on hitting up Barack's rally tomorrow night.

It seems like another indicator that even this late in the race, Democrats continue to identify with both candidates.

Then again, maybe they're like me and simply happen to find presidential politics ridiculously addictive.

*I like to think of them as "HillBillies." Clever, huh?
**Heck, 2,000 people showed up in Riverton - population less than 10,000.
***I don't buy the rumor. If I'm reading the University's
fee sheet correctly, the difference between the UniWyo Sports Complex where Clinton spoke and the Arena is less than $1,000. When you're spending $30 million plus a month, I think you can afford it.
****Eat your heart out, Limbaugh. Obnoxiously enough, the playlist before the speech sounded just fine. There was some song that mentioned the word change a whole lot, and U2's City of Blinding Lights. Unsurprisingly, no Rush.


Ben said...

I think you forgot to put in the "picture of the hardcore folks who refused to just go home."

Anonymous said...

"HillBillies" - I love it!
Would that make Republican supporters McCainiacs???????

Anonymous said...

Ben: The picture of the people crammed up against the window is of the hardcore folks. It's hard to make out on the small view, but they were actually scrunched against the glass in to get a glimpse of Clinton. To clarify, they did eventually go home. Or at least I assume so.

Anon: I am so proud to have you as a mother. I'm biased, but I think that's brilliant.

Tim Nance said...

Looks like Obama did pretty well over there today, though I can't see the final results yet. How was the rally?

Anonymous said...

Tim: First, good to hear from you!

Obama did do well. I'm not entirely sure how the process works, but I know he picked up more than 60% of the caucus goers today.

The rally was pretty neat. I've got some video that I'll (hopefully) be cutting together this weekend.

Tim Nance said...

Did I mention I love how your cartoon head talks now?