Just Rally Stories

On my way home last night from the Dean rally in Keene, NH, I was thinking about how the event compared to the political rallies I’d seen in Canada. Then I realized that, since Trudeau in 1980 in Hamilton.

The rally was held in the large 1,100-seat auditorium of Keene Middle School. The hall was full — every seat taken — and there was a crowd in the cafeteria watching on closed-circuit television. Fortunately, I arrived around 6:00 p.m., so I was able to get a seat.

I took several photos of the event; I was some distance from the stage, and the light was poor (to say nothing of my skills as a photographer), so the photos are best seem as being of “to show I was there” quality only. Dean’s own website has much better photos.

Things got started around 7:15 p.m. The Mayor of Keene, Michael Blastos, came on stage, welcomed the crowd, and the introduced a young woman who would sing the national anthem. Americans still sing their national anthem before events, apparently. Although I hold a U.S. passport, short of a hockey game on television, I don’t think I’ve ever heard it sung live. And, truth be told, I couldn’t quite figure out what it was about — lots of phrases about the flag still being there, and things burning down, etc. To avoid being kicked out as a Canadian infiltrator, I mouthed the words as best I could.

Mayor Blastos then introduced the actor and director Rob Reiner. Reiner spoke for about 5 minutes about why he supports Dean, concentrating on Dean’s support for and interest in early childhood education and “first start” programs. He then introduced Dean.

After hearing Dean speak for almost an hour, I certainly understand his appeal. He is a compelling speaker, and is obviously smart and imaginative. He spoke without notes on topics ranging from health care to education to defense. And, somehow, he managed to come across as honest and forthright in a way that didn’t make it seem like he was trying to convince us that he was.

The formal speech wound down about 8:15; after that there was 30 minutes of questions from the audience. When things finally ended for the night, about 9:00 p.m., Dean headed downstairs to the cafeteria overflow room where he spent 15 minutes answering questions.

And then we all headed off into the cold, cold New Hampshire night.