(O'FALLON, MO.) - I've been covering the John McCain campaign (on and off) since March 2007, and in all that time I've never seen anything remotely like what I'm seeing tonight at a minor league ball park here - and to a lesser degree last night in a similar ballpark in Washington, Pa.
It's not just the crowd size -- at (perhaps) 20,000 tonight and 15,000 last night, they're his biggest ever.
It's the level of enthusiasm.
I've talked to dozens of folks here and they give three primary reasons for what they say is is a new excitement about the McCain campaign:
1. Sarah Palin;
2. Sarah Palin (yes, this is a very conservative area, and she -- judging from these two events at least -- appears to be a sensation among social conservatives); and
3. They were inspired by Obama's 80,000-plus in Denver to show they're pumped up too.
Of course, it may also have a little something to do with this being Labor Day weekend and they're finally paying attention -- and they suddenly woke up to the startling realization that Barack Obama could be their next President.