Saturday, August 07, 2004

Kerry & Edwards in KC

KC STAR - Missouri Democrats saved the best for last Friday night, giving John Kerry a huge Kansas City send-off on his post-convention trip.

A crowd the Secret Service estimated at 22,000 plus — aides called it the biggest Kerry has seen along the campaign trail in his quest for the presidency — filled the parking lots and the Liberty Memorial slope in front of Union Station where Kerry and his running mate, John Edwards, rallied the party faithful.

Kerry, flanked by the two candidates' wives and some of their children, began his talk at about 10:15 p.m. — more than two hours after some had arrived — calling out: “Hello, Kansas City, how are you? What I should say — ‘Hi, may I help you?'” using the well-known salutation at a well-known barbecue establishment...

The event, on another surprisingly cool summer evening, ranks as one of the best attended political gatherings in the city since the Republican national convention in 1976.

The event capped a three-day swing through Missouri that began Wednesday night in Hannibal and continued Thursday with a train trip through the state's midsection reminiscent of whistle-stop tours of the past. In fact, Harry Truman used one of the cars in the Kerry train in his now-legendary 1948 run for the presidency.

A friend of mine, who happened to live down the street, turned on the TV while Edwards was speaking last night, and quickly realized this rally was taking place just a couple of blocks away from her apartment. Having long been a fan of Kerry, she grabbed her keys and cell phone and bolted out the door. As she ran along the sidewalk toward Union Station, she told me she could hear the words from the loudspeaker grow louder and clearer the closer she came. Pulling out her phone, she dialed her brother (another big Kerry-backer), and he too was able to hear the sounds of the crowd as it roared its approval for the next President of the United States. She made it just in time for the elder John's speech, breathless and excited.

After Kerry had finished speaking, I began walking back toward my car, when this friend spotted me (not like that's really hard to do nowadays), ran over to catch up with me and recounted her story. It was the first time she had ever heard a presidential candidate speak in person, and she said she was absolutely thrilled to have had the chance to see the junior Senator from Massachusetts (even from waaaay back in the crowd). Her last-minute effort to get a mere glimpse of the Johns was so inspiring, I felt I just had to share it with you. If people are willing to run half-a-mile on a moment's notice to see the men who are aspiring to replace Smirky & Smarmy, I think it certainly bodes well for this November


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