Impressions from three Campaign Rallies

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been able to attend local campaign rallies for Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. The events were all a little different, given the characteristics of the candidates and the campaigns.

On January 12, Mitt Romney held an event at the Palm Beach County Civic Center. The rally had been delayed an hour by a scheduling issue, announced the day prior, which may have accounted for the long line of people waiting to get in when we arrived about a half hour early. Once inside the dark, windowless room it looked like a large crowd, but that was deceiving as the room was relatively small and half was roped off for a press area. There was a raised platform in the middle of the space so the crowd could completely surround it. A large press contingent was present with the front of the center crowded with video trucks and a large area of tables for reporters to file stories from their laptops. At this point, Governor Romney was considerably ahead in the polls and press accomodation was a feature of his events. Many of the local Republican establishment were present, including former Congressman Clay Shaw. Many in the crowd we spoke with were still undecided, but leaning to the Governor as the candidate with the best choice to defeat the President. The crowd was in the 500 range, including an overflow room.

Governor Romney’s speech was quite well received and mostly positive, in a Reaganesque “morning in America” sort of way. He contrasted Obama “managing the decline” of America versus his seeing our best days ahead of us. Although I didn’t feel that he really “fired up” the crowd, he did generate lots of applause and came across more sincere and genuine than he sometimes does on television. Sprinkled throughout his address were references to the founding documents, particularly the Declaration, which seems to be a theme in all the campaigns now. When he was done, he worked the crowd for 10 or 15 minutes and seemed to enjoy the interaction. I came away thinking that although he was not my first choice in the primary, I could support this man if he wins the nomination. Event synopsis: professional, conventional, low-key.

On Sunday, 7/22, Senator Rick Santorum paid a visit to Wings Plus in Coral Springs. A portable enclosed stage had been set up at the end of the parking lot and a lot of local politicians were in evidence. Michael Warns and his band livened things for the crowd of about 300 who filled the parking lot along with a handful of media. The candidate arrived without fanfare.

The Senator gave an inspiring 40 minute speech, filled with policy positions, strong statements about preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and a clear contrast from his opponents who he painted as having supported both health care mandates and the bank bailouts. He made a good case that he has been consistent in his conservative positions, even when it was not popular. He offered the proposition that is compelling: that he would be better positioned than either Romney or Gingrich to win the swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. As he has done throughout the campaign, Sentator Santorum has been calm and steady – almost subtle in his appeal compared to the drama coming out of the other campaigns. At the end of the day this may win if the others burn out, but his style is not garnering the same level of media attention as the others. The crowd of mostly Santorum supporters was receptive and supportive. Event synopsis: focused, clear, low budget.

Finally, on Wednesday 7/25, Newt Gingrich also paid a visit to Wings Plus. The location was the same, but the enclosed stage had been replaced by a low platform and a large arch of red, white and blue balloons. The event was originally announced for 10:30 AM, but postponed to 11:30 with little notice. The candidate did not actually arrive until 12:45 as the crowd added to their sunburns in the hot parking lot. The entrance was fitting for a candidate who has admitted to the adjective “grandiose”. First the sound system cranked up with some impressive flourishes that seemed reminiscent of the Roman Empire. Then the large bus with a three foot high face of Newt pulled up behind the platform accompanied by a police motorcycle escort with lights flashing. Finally, after giving us a few minutes to absorb the scene, the candidate and wife Callista emerged from the cavernous vehicle to the cheers of the enthusiastic crowd of 1200 or so. The crowd differed a little from the Santorum and Romney events as it seemed more diverse and with a wider spread of ages. There was even a short presentation by representatives of high school and college Yourg Republican groups.

Newt Gingrich is very good on the stump. His speech was full of red meat and stark contrasts between him and Barack Obama (“paychecks or foodstamps”). He easily deflected and ridiculed a heckler in the crowd (who turned out to be former Lake Worth Commissioner Cara Jennings). Of the three, Newt made the most direct appeal for support in the primary, and laid out how he would conduct the general election if he were the nominee. If the President were to turn him down on his offer of a series of 3 hour “Lincoln – Douglas” debates for example, he claims he will follow Lincoln’s example and follow Obama around the country, appearing in the same places 4 hours delayed. Hope he has the money for a 747 like Air Force One. As we were walking back to the car – a gentleman talking to his wife said – he sure gives a good speech and is a good talker but can you trust him? That is the rub. Event synopsis: Grandiose, disorderly, compelling.

Some pictures from the events:


5 Responses to “Impressions from three Campaign Rallies”
  1. EdFulop EdFulop says:

    Great article Fred. I had a good laugh myself when I realized that Newt’s heckler was none other than Lake Worth’s resident anarchist. In the video I saw, she was denying any affiliation with the “Occupiers”, but she’s been a big part of that gang for the last few months. For those of you who don’t know Ms. Jennings, read this glowing biography in Izvestia . . . . . I’m sorry, the Palm Beach Post.


    . . . . or this one from the New Times


    The kind of girl you want to bring home to mom and dad, no? Surprised she hasn’t been tapped as Obama’s running mate . . . . . yet.

  2. Suzanne Squire says:

    Go Ron Paul!

  3. jd8501 says:

    I’m glad to see that Rick Santorum is gaining ground. He represents the Tea Party values more than any of the other candidates that remain. He certainly is not a Washington insider and most assuredly contrasts Obama by being a true conservative. He admits to voting against a right to work bill when he represented his district in Pennsylvania, but that is what his constituents wanted at the time. How refreshing to hear of a polititian actually doing what the people he represents want him to do. He has stated that he believes in the right to work and will try to establish that freedom if elected. He has shown strong moral values and has displayed a degree of honesty that I, for one, appreciate. I am not sure if he, or any of the other Republican candidates, can beat Obama, but he probably has the least baggage to be used against him. I really think that he needs to get a lot meaner to deal with the socialistic regime that governs now. Time will tell, but right now, I think he should be given a chance to prove what he can do. It is still early.

    • Suzanne Squire says:

      “I and some friends, none of us Romney fans, have set about exploring Santorum’s record since Wednesday morning. Here now is a non-exhaustive list of what we have found. It does not even include his support for No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, debt ceiling increases, funding the bridge to nowhere, refusing to redirect earmark allocations to disaster relief along the Gulf Coast post Katrina, etc.

      This is not the record of a man committed to scaling back the welfare state or the nanny state. Had he been up for re-election in 2010 instead of 2006, this is the record of a man who the tea party movement would have primaried. The only real justification for supporting him now is he is not Mitt Romney, but I still believe we can do better.

      See for yourself.”

      Voted for taxpayer funding of the National Endowment for the Arts.
      Voted against a 10% cut in the budget for National Endowment for the Arts.

      Voted for a Schumer amendment to make the debts of pro-life demonstrators not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

      Defense and Foreign Policy

      Voted for the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
      Voted against requiring the President to certify that the CWC is effectively verifiable.

      Voted against requiring the President to certify that that Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, North Korea, China, and all other countries determined to be state sponsors of terror have joined CWC prior to submitting the instrument of ratification.

      Voted for the START II Treaty
      Voted to allow the sale of supercomputers to China.
      Voted to ban antipersonnel landmines
      Voted against increasing defense spending offset by equivalent cuts in non-defense spending.
      Voted to require that Federal bureaucrats get the same payraises as uniformed military.
      Voted to allow food and medicine sales to state sponsors of terror and tyranical regimes such as Libya and Cuba.
      Voted to limit the President’s authority to impose sanctions on nations for reasons of national security unless the sanctions were approved by a multilateral regime.
      Voted against requiring Congressional authorization for military action in Bosnia.
      Voted to give $25 million in foreign aid to North Korea
      Voted to weaken alien terrorist deportation provisions. If the Court determines that the evidence must be withheld for national security reasons, the Justice Department must still provide a summary of the evidence sufficient for the alien terrorist to mount a defense against deportation.
      Voted against delaying the India Nuclear until the President certified that India had agreed to suspend military-to-military exchanges with Iran.
      Voted against the Conventional Trident Missile Program

      Voted for Richard Paez to the 9th Curcuit (cloture)
      Voted for Sonia Sotomayor, Circuit Judge
      Voted for Richard Holbrooke to be Ambassador to the UN
      Voted for Margaret Morrow to be District Judge
      Voted twice for Marsha Berzon to the 9thg Circuit
      Voted for Mary McLaughlin to be District Judge
      Voted for Tim Dyk to be District Judge
      Voted for James Brady to be District Judge

      Voted against National Right to Work Act
      Voted against Real of Davis-Bacon Prevailing union wages
      Voted for Alexis Herman to be Secretary of Labor
      Voted for mandatory Federal child care funding
      Voted for Trade Adjustment Assistance.
      Voted for Job Corps funding
      Voted twice in support of Fedex Unionization
      Voted against allowing a waiver of Davis-Bacon in emergency situations.
      Voted for minimum wage increases six times here here here here here and here
      Voted to require a union representative on an IRS oversight board.
      Voted to exempt IRS union representative from criminal ethics laws.
      Voted against creating independent Board of Governors to investigate IRS abuses.


      Voted to require pawn shops to do background checks on people who pawn a gun.
      Voted twice to make it illegal to sell a gun without a secure storage or safety device
      Voted for a Federal ban on possession of “assault weapons” by those under 18.
      Voted for Federal funding for anti-gun education programs in schools.
      Voted for anti-gun juvenile justice bill.


      Voted for funding for the legal services corporation.
      Voted twice for a Congressional payraise.
      Voted to impose a uniform Federal mandate on states to force them to allow convicted rapits, arsonists, drug kingpins, and all other ex-convicts to vote in Federal elections.
      Voted for the Specter “backup plan” to allow campaign finance reform to survive if portions of the bill were found unconstitutional.
      Voted to mandate discounted broadcast times for politicians.
      Voted for a McCain amendment to require State and local campaign committees to report all campaign contributions to the FEC and to require all campaign contributions to be reported to the FEC within 24 hours within 90 days of an election.

      Voted against increasing the number of immigration investigators
      Voted to allow illegal immigrants to receive the earned income credit before becoming citizens
      Voted to give SSI benefits to legal aliens.
      Voted to give welfare benefits to naturalized citizens without regard to to the earnings of their sponsors.
      Voted against hiring an additional 1,000 border partrol agents, paid for by reductions in state grants.

      Voted against a flat tax.
      Voted to increase tobacco taxes to pay for Medicare prescription drugs
      Voted to increase tobacco taxes to fund health insurance subsidies for small businesses.
      Voted to increase tobacco taxes to pay for an $8 billion increase in child healh insurance.
      Voted to increase tobacco taxes to pay for an increase in NIH funding.
      Voted twice for internet taxes.
      Voted to allow gas tax revenues to be used to subsidize Amtrak.
      Voted to strike marriage penalty tax relief and instead provide fines on tobacco companies.
      Voted against repealing the Clinton 4.3 cent gas tax increase.
      Voted to increase taxes by $2.3 billion to pay for an Amtrak trust fund.
      Voted to allow welfare to a minor who had a child out of wedlock and who resided with an adult who was on welfare within the previous two years.
      Voted to increase taxes by $9.4 billion to pay for a $9.4 billion increase in student loans.
      Voted to say that AMT patch is more important than capital gains and dividend relief.

      Voted against food stamp reform
      Voted against Medicaid reform
      Voted against TANF reform
      Voted to increase the Social Services Block Grant from $1 billion to $2 billion
      Voted to increase the FHA loan from $170,000 to $197,000. Also opposed increasing GNMA guaranty from 6 basis points to 12.
      Voted for $2 billion for low income heating assistance.

      Sponsored An amendment to increase Amtrak funds by $550 million
      Voted to use HUD funds for the Joslyn Art Museum (NE), the Stand Up for Animals project (RI) and the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Project (WA)
      Voted to increase spending on social programs by $7 billion
      Voted to increase NIH funding by $1.6 billion.
      Voted to increase NIHnding by $700 million
      Voted to for a $2 million earmark to renovate the Vulcan Monument (AL)
      Voted for a $1 billion bailout for the steel industry
      Voted against requiring that highway earmarks would come out of a state’s highway allocation
      Voted to allow Market Access Program funds to go to foreign companies.
      Voted to allow OPIC to increase its administrative costs by 50%
      Voted against transferring $20 million from Americorps to veterans.
      Voted for the $140 billion asbestos compensation bill.
      Voted against requiring a uniform medical criteria to ensure asbestos claims were legitimate.
      Voted to increase community development programs by $2 billion.

      Spending and Entitlements
      Voted to make Medicare part B premium subsidies an new entitlement.
      Voted against paying off the debt ($5.6 trillion at the time) within 30 years.
      Voted to give $18 billion to the IMF.
      Voted to raid Social Security instead of using surpluses to pay down the debt.

      Health Care
      Voted to allow states to impose health care mandates that are stricter than proposed new Federal mandates, but not weaker.
      Voted twice for Federal mental health parity mandates in health insurance.
      Voted against a allow consumers the option to purchase a plan outside the parity mandate.

      Voted to increase Federal funding for teacher testing
      Voted to increase spending for the Department of Education by $3.1 billion.
      Voted against requiring courts to consider the impact of IDEA awards on a local school district.


      Voted to allow the President to designate certain sites as interim nuclear waste storage sites in the event that he determines that Yucca Mountain is not a suitable site for a permanent waste repository. Those sites are as follows: the nuclear waste site in Hanford, Washington; the Savannah River Site in South Carolina; Barnwell County, South Carolina; and the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee.

      Voted to make fuel price gouging a Federal crime.

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