Friday, January 18, 2008


It's about Chuck, Ric, South Carolina values, and us!

- Mike Huckabee at yesterday's Clemson appearance.

Final thoughts (just in case you don't want to read all of this): Mike Huckabee really is a stand up guy. He believes in what he says and seems to have morals and values. If I didn't disagree with his ultra-conservative social stances, I would absolutely vote for Huckabee.

My first political rally was yesterday. The sounds, the sights, I tried to take it all in and remain objective, but that didn't happen. I borrowed Indian Jones' "We're pilgrims in an unholy land," line from the Last Crusade to describe where I was headed. Surrounded by Republicans and Evangelicals, it was almost like any other day in the Bible Belt. I wasn't there for the crowd. I was there for the show. So here we go, unfiltered notes scribbled furiously while being jostled by the crowd.

Time: January 17th, 2008, the line formed at 2:15 pm for the expected 2:30 start time. As the line files into Jervey gym (where the volleyball team does their thing), our ears are greeted by wailing guitars and a decent drumline. I can't find them online, but I'm sure they have a Myspace page, and I think they're local.

Photo courtesy of Erik S. Lesser from here.
Definitely note the other two names, Chuck Norris and Ric Flair. Oh yeah, that's where the show comes in. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

So we're waiting in the "cold", a degree or two above freezing, and file into the gym. They have a table set up with lots of Huckabee propaganda, I snagged a bumper sticker (no idea what I'm gonna do with it, it's sitting on my desk) but they also had yard signs and a pamphlet or two. Before we got inside there was a campaign worker handing out signs that said Mike Huckabee President (which I think is a little presumptuous to just leave out the 'for') and said I Like Mike on the back (as someone who grew up loving Michael Jordan and his corporate overlord Nike, I'm loyal to that Mike, thank you very much). There was also a sad looking snowman who was passing out "Make Global Warming a Priority" stickers which a friend pointed out weren't very eco-friendly, but it got the point across. Also as we were finding a parking spot (we were off campus doing some work, we're not lazy or at least that lazy) I saw a big Redeem the Vote bus parked in front of a Clean Coal van. I was unaware you could make coal clean. Do they still strip mine for coal? It's hard for me to imagine enviro friendly coal at either end of coal's life.

We walk in and a guy in a suit and trenchcoat encourages us to "fill in the floor." I wanted to be close to the stage so I was the only one of our group that stayed in the middle; everyone else fled to the comfort of the bleachers. The demographic of the group was predominantly college students with a few community members who showed up. There was a sprinkling of minorities, a few Indian grad students, a Latin here or there, and I would say no more than 8 black people, but that didn't stop them from getting a nice mix of "supporters" up on stage for Huckabee's backdrop.

The band stopped playing and asked if we were excited to see Ric Flair, some yells and whoooos, Ric's trademark yell, were we excited to see Mike Huckabee, lots of yells and cheers, were we excited to see Chuck Norris, deafening roar and cheers. Sounds like most people are here for Chuck Norris.

Mike and the Gang were running late so the band broke into Taking Care of Business without Mike. Is that his campaign theme song? Or just an easy bass line that Huckabee can easily remember and play? I'm not saying he has to channel Les Claypool or Flea, but as a former bass player, I guess it's takes a bit more to impress me. Besides the easy bass line of TCOB and the other covered songs, I would say Mae West (the band) had a good sound and put on a good show, although the lead singer had too much of a Fred Durst thing going on, but not many people remember that guy, so Mae West's lead singer should be okay. He then asked if there were any Walker Texas Ranger fans in the house. There were actually a few cheers and shouts. I was never a fan.

Sarah Huckabee came onstage and apologized for her dad being late. She then introduced the Harris twins. They're who Chuck recognizes as getting him involved in Mike's campaign. They're college aged twins from Oregon. They tried to keep the masses appeased by "making it rain." My MTV/BET soaked mind of course thought they were going to throw money into the crowd. Nope, turns out they were doing something I haven't seen since 2nd grade camp. They got each section of the crowd to rub their hands together, snap, clap, or hit their thighs. This went on for about 45 seconds and then someone onstage started a Clemson football cheer and it went from soft rainlike sounds to deafening gameday atmosphere. The Harris twins knew they were beat, stalled a bit more, and then exited the stage.

Ex-governor of SC, David Beasley, came out and introduced the group. First came Ric and Tiffany Flair, Ric looks just the same as ever, tanned, slicked back peroxide blond hair and big, Tiffany was good looking too and I wonder how long they've been together? Then Mike Campbell came out. He's the son of a former governor and State Chairman. Then came SC Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer. There wasn't much applause for him. I'm sure there is a reason. Then came Chuck and Gena Norris. Lots of cheers and shouts. Then came Mike Huckabee and he opened with the quote up top. He also said this was the biggest turnout in all his campaign. This article by Anna Simon from GreenvilleOnline estimated 2,200 people.

Chuck then got on the mike. He explained that Gena and he didn't know who to support for president. Mike wasn't getting alot of airtime for obvious corporate media reasons. Chuck was receiving lots of emails from college kids about Huckabee, but one in particular from the Harris twins. He also notes that he writes a column for WorldNetDaily. Chuck said that Mike "is a stand-up guy." He discussed his online explosion, and said that 2 trips to Iraq to visit the troops came out of it. "This country needs to prosper and it needs peace," said Chuck and then went on to talk about a big Huckabee "We need money" BBQ at the Norris' Ranch in Texas where he would webcast a tour of his house and his workout room. Mike's band will also be playing at the BBQ.

Then Natureboy Ric Flair got on the mike. He opened by quoting himself "To be the man, you must beat the man. And the man is Mike Huckabee, whoooooooo!" And that's it. Perfect amount of speaking time for a wrestler. They're so great for 15-40 seconds but beyond that is gets dicey. If anyone could let me know what he meant, I would appreciate it. Mike borrowed a bass and played Sweet Home Alabama with Mae West. He did a good job, but I was disappointed that Mike didn't sing. Maybe the singer/bassist is a dying breed. While Mike was rocking out, Janet Huckabee was passing out something that looked like a trading card. I never got close enough to figure out what is was.

Mike Huckabee stops playing bass, hands it off, and opens with "Tigers know how to rock the house!" Chuck will be his Secretary of Defense and Ric will be the head of Homeland Security; everyone on the hill will call them "Smith & Wesson". I hope he's kidding about those appointments. Mike made fun of Beasley by suggesting there were shennanigans going on while he was at Clemson. Campbell's family is the "gold standard" of Republicans in South Carolina. "Politics is a contact sport" and everyone needs to get out and vote on Sat. Huckabee says he'll win SC because of the Clemson community. He's 52, which I'll comment on later, and if we don't vote for him, Chuck and Ric will get us. He wants us to think about the future, we don't need another DC insider, he understands poor states and values education. He was the first in his family to graduate from high school and worked his way through college. He was the 44th governor of Arkansas and wants to become the 44th President of the United States.

Mike went on to say that the tax system is broken, there is excessive taxation from the government, we need small government, government isn't always the answer for everything. He values states rights (how about if they go against federal law Mike?). Republicans aren't right all the time and Democrats aren't wrong all the time (few cheers here so I'm not the only pilgrim) and we need to put the country above labels.

He addressed the energy crisis and mentioned that decades of presidents have promised for the US to become energy self-sufficient. Tricky-Dick Nixon promised it, as did others. He wants to cut the Saudis off from our money. We (college kids) will graduate with lots of debt, we need a president who has lived paycheck to paycheck. He stressed personal responsibility and wants us to start small businesses. The government should protest us and not provide for us. We need a proven governor of a Southern state and not a DC insider (only used that phrase twice, change never crossed his lips). The Chuck Norris jokes were flying left and right to many laughs and cheers. Mike made a horrible pun (a boisterous kid who kept interrupting said he wanted to be a doctor, Mike said that he was already a good "cut up". Get it?) and then it hit me. Mike is my dad. Bad puns, corny jokes, minister, etc... Roughly the same age, same values. It was a neat personal moment.

Huckabee closed with a fairly weak analogy of plowing the fields is like campaigning for president. The crew left the stage and a couple guys from Salisbury, MD changed Hard Workin' Man to Huckabee Lover. Huckabee pointed out that was called pandering. Damn right.

He didn't answer any questions because they were trying to hit the whole state in one day, but my questions would have been:
Knowing you support states' rights, what if the state law disagreed with federal law, like California's medical marijuana law?
Why do you think the leaders in the evangelical world have not endorsed you while their constituents have come out in force to support you?

Thanks for reading and as of right now, J will be voting for Ron Paul this Sat. and I will be voting for John Edwards next Saturday.

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