Yesterday morning my boyfriend and I drove and drove and drove down to La Junta, a small town in Southern Colorado. Once there we stood in line, went through a few metal detectors and then waited. For a very, very long time. The speeches were well worth the borderline heatstroke, however.
First a few interesting details:
- Handmade signs were not allowed. At first we thought this was just an odd security precaution, but we later found out that the Kerry campaign wanted all signs to be positive so they provided pre-made signs. There were the normal "America Can Do Better" and "Help Is On The Way" and "Believe In America", but there were also handmade signs that were apparently made by children. I guess the campaign wants the general public to believe that the people who go to Kerry rallies a) make signs, b) make only positive signs and c) either make signs like little kids or have little kids make their signs.
- There were two areas. One for white tickets and one for blue tickets. We just printed out a ticket from the Colorado for Kerry website so ours, obviously, was white. The blue ticket people were able to be near the stage while the white ticket people were herded behind these event fences. The blue ticket people didn't look like big-time donors or anything, and the website didn't mention any ticket class tiers. It remains a mystery. Anyway, once it got closer to the time when Kerry et al. would arrive they announced that anyone could come into the blue ticket area. We decided that since we hadn't been good enough for their special area before, why would we want to go into their special blue ticket area at all? Seriously, though, once everyone rushed into the blue area like they had just received a miracle at a Grateful Dead concert we were able to stand behind the event fencing and stand on the bottom rungs so I could actually see the stage. It was helpful.
So, the people of interest were Elizabeth and John Edwards and their older daughter, Teresa Heinz-Kerry, John Kerry, Teresa's son Andre and John's daughter Alex. The broad theme of the whole event was health care, and to a lesser extent education. Both Elizabeth and Teresa talked primarily about health care for children and seniors. John Edwards mostly concentrated on his "I'm the son of a mill worker" motif but also mixed in some "Help is on the way" lines.
Obviously the highlight was John Kerry who got surprisingly (not because it was Kerry, but because it was a rally) specific about his plans for health care and education. He also mentioned that yes, they do know how they plan to pay for everything he was proposing. He proposed that under his administration :
- every single child would automatically have health care.
- every graduate level student would receive a $4000 tuition credit (hopfully this would include law school!)
- every high school student would have the opportunity to have all four years of instate college tuition paid for if they volunteered as a mentor or senior citizen helper for two years.
He also hit on a lot of points from the plan including alternative energy, bringing down the deficit and new job creation.
After it was all over we were trying to get out of La Junta but we had to wait for the motorcade to get back to the train. While we were stuck in the traffic we had a great show of a security guy in a suit running after any car that pulled into the train yard to turn around. He would whistle and point and yell while trying to keep his earpiece in his ear. There were lots of people trying to get out of the traffic jam and he took every single Geo Metro and SUV U-turning as a personal insult. This was non-stop fun.
Finally we were able to leave La Junta and even though it was 7 hours of driving and very hot heat it was a good day.