Oh to Be in Pittsburgh Today! (July 6, 2004)

Wow, it’s been a very long and very interesting day.

Our alarm clock went off at 5am. Now, many days, I’m awake that early, but usually that means I’ll wander downstairs and do stuff on the computer until I really wake up (along about 6:30). Today, I had to shower, dress, grab some breakfast and be out the door by 5:30 so I could get to the trolley. I was in Market Sq by 6:15 as I’d volunteered to work on John Kerry’s rally, and we volunteers had to be there early. My first job was to be a gopher and run over to a hotel to pick up a suit for the volunteer manager. By the time I got back, I was assigned to help with getting the lines through the metal detectors. As the rally started, I was passing out flags.
There were short speeches by former Steeler Franco Harris, and by Congressman Mike Doyle.

Franco Harris

Franco Harris at the Kerry Rally

Since I’d been out of the square most of the morning, I didn’t hear any rumors about whether the VP announcement was happening and, if it was going to happen, who it would be. But as John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry took to the stage, I saw a very good looking man backstage who looked like John Edwards. I called Jim on my cell phone “It’s Edwards! I’m looking at John Edwards!” I shot the man a major thumbs up.

“CNN had that 20 minutes ago…” he said. (When I later read my E-mail, I was delighted to find that my message from the Kerry campaign was E-mailed to me before the rally.)

Oh well. So much for being an “insider.” And it turned out that very good-looking man wasn’t John Edwards, it was John Kerry’s chief of staff, who looks like a taller version of John Edwards.

John Kerry

John Kerry Addresses the Audience in Pittsburgh

Teresa Heinz Kerry

Teresa Heinz Kerry at the Kerry Rally

When Kerry announced John Edwards as his running mate, the crowd went wild. It was great. It’s very ironic that the Republicans, of all people, are calling Edwards inexperienced. Compare Edwards professional successes to Bush’s professional failures (including his presidency).

I passed out some of the first Kerry Edwards T-shirts, taking one for myself, of course! There were only about 200 or so T-shirt for the 4,000+ folks in Market Sq – believe me, they were hot items.

Modelling a First Edition Kerry Edwards T-Shirt!

Modelling a First Edition Kerry Edwards T-Shirt!

A quick note on numbers – some of the media reported that there were only 500 people attending. I helped collect numbers and we counted somewhere around 2,000 before gates were pretty much opened. So I’m guessing we had
in the 4,000-5,000 range. One Kerry staffer later said we had 8,000 – 10,0000 and that
it was bigger than any other rally ever in Market Square. People running rallys tend to overestimate. I was in Market Square for the Pittsburgh Pirates rally in 1979 and I’m sure there were more people in the square in 1979 for that particular rally. There were only about 20 counter-demonstrators at the Market Sq. rally.

After the rally, I went over to help out behind the stage had to help hold down the curtain in the wind. As I was holding down the curtain, Senator Kerry stopped by. So I shook his hand, wished him good luck and said, “Hey, I’m from Massachusetts and I know John Kerry!” He smiled. I only regret I couldn’t get my camera at that moment.

Actually, it turned out I did briefly let go of the curtain long enough to try to snap a photo (this photo was either from AP or Reuters, and I’m the headless person in the background). Unfortunately, the photo I was trying to take didn’t come out, and then Kerry had to take a phone call from one of his daughters so he left the area. An AP or Reuters Photo of John Kerry, 7/6/2004

I went to work for a while (one of the joys of working part time in downtown), and decided to go out to the Edwards rally at the airport in the late afternoon.

Suprisingly ontime, the Edwards jet landed, and, within a few minutes, Senator John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth came over to great the crowd of about 300. Maybe it was because I had the Kerry/Edwards shirt, I was one of the first people he greeted! I joked with them that when Jim and I got married in 1977 (same year they did), we did have enough money to pay for our hotel room… I hadn’t seen Elizabeth Edwards before, but she seemed extremely nice. I hear she’s also a fine lawyer herself.

John Edwards

John Edwards Meets the Crowd at the Old Pittsburgh Airport

Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards on the Windy Tarmac

About 200-300 people went to the airport rally, and there might have been 100 media reps of various types. I didn’t see any counter-demontrators there at all.

After spending many hours doing political things, I went to the Kerry Meet-up that was happening at the Church Brew Works. I got there early, grabbed a table, and chatted with a number of people (including my boss’s step-daughter – it took us a few minutes to remember where we’d seen one another before). I had a fine time until it got too smokey, and will probably have more to say about it later.

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