Republican presidential nominee John McCain and vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin disembarked from the Straight Talk Express campaign bus Monday evening amidst the enthusiastic cheers of supporters outside of the Delaware County Courthouse in Media, Pa. The Secret Service estimated the crowd at 10,000, but GOP officials placed the figure closer to 15,000.
Area officials and community members alike opened the evening with speeches, songs, and performances, entertaining the crowd for two hours before the Republican contenders took the stage at 5:45 p.m. Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter and congressional candidate Craig Williams, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Representative Joe Sestak for his 7th District seat, were among those who spoke at the rally. McCain and Palin passed through Media just six days after Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden rallied in the same town.
Palin, backed by her family, took to the stage after Lieberman endorsed her as a breath of fresh Alaskan air. After a brief speech, she introduced Vietnam Veteran John Teutul and his two sons, Paul and John Jr., who manufacture customized motorcycles known as Orange County Choppers. The Teutuls presented McCain with a custom-made motorcycle designed to honor soldiers taken as prisoners of war and those missing in action. Paul Teutul Jr., against a heavy metal backdrop, introduced McCain for the final talk of the night.
In his opening remarks, McCain emphasized the energizing effects of Palins presence on the Republican ticket. I cant wait until I introduce her to Washington, DC, McCain said. Were going to reform, were going to shake things up, were going to change the culture, my friends. Please note, she sparked a fire thats going to sweep across this country and take us to the White House and change America, and thats what its all about.
McCains speech emphasized the key differences between his and Senator Barack Obamas views. Referring explicitly to the recent convulsions on Wall Street, McCain noted that Obama, a week after the onset of the financial crisis, had not yet recommended a policy response. McCain also described healthcare coverage as a private matter that should remain in the hands of taxpayers, who he claimed should have the freedom to make their own decisions about the cost and extent of their personal coverage plans. The dominant theme of the speech was McCains desire for change and reform in the United States government.
Let me offer a little advance warning to the big spending, greedy, do-nothings, me-first, country-second crowd in Washington and on Wall Street: change is coming, change is coming, McCain said.
Thousands of supporters, many of them wearing red shirts at the McCain campaigns behest, displayed vibrant signs bearing slogans such as In McCain We Trust, Lipstick Power, Babies for Palin, and NObama. Congressional candidate Craig Williams said that the large turnout indicative of a broader mobilization strategy in Delaware county and other contested regions of Pennsylvania was crucial for McCains success in the upcoming election.
As a swing state, Pennsylvania is vitally important to both partys candidates as Nov. 4 approaches. It breaks down like this: the national polls we get every day are interesting, but it doesnt tell us the whole story, Williams said in an interview just prior to the start of the rally. What is important is the electoral map and Election Day If John McCain wins Pennsylvania then the race is over.