This will be my first installment because I have a lot to say. Let me warn you in advance: there have been enough bloggers and media outlets talking about the "meat" of the debate, so I am going to offer readers something else. I am going to focus on the "behind the scenes" aspect, and the experience of those in attendance at the rally and the debate. So, frankly, if humor, snark, and lack of serious political chit chat offends you or leaves you disinterested, go read something else. :)
I got to the debate site at about 5pm, and started signing with some other Webb volunteers. Of course, we were later than the paid Allen staff, but we sucked it up, split into groups, and took care of business. We quickly got our signs out, and I had a very nice conversation with a college Republican. He moved one of my Webb signs, and I immediately approached him, looked him dead in the eyes, and asked him why he was moving my signs. He fumbled for a second, and I looked at him again and reminded him with a smile that signs don't vote. He laughed, I laughed, and he put my sign back. We ended up shaking hands and saying good luck. A few minutes later, another Allen supporter thanked me. He claimed that he had been in this game for a while, and that he was upset with both camps for being childish about taking the other sides material throughout the campaign. I agreed with him, and we wished each other luck. Very nice surprise from two college Republicans for Allen; kudos!
Allen supporters- 1
Webb supporters- 1
As I was walking to my car to get more signs, a very elderly gentleman in a suit approached me with a much younger woman who was in a...a-HEM...very short skirt. ***Note to selves: if you have a big family, buy a big house. If you have a big dog, buy a big water bowl. If you have a big ass, buy big pants. Keep that in mind, and you're welcome in advance for the sage advice.***
So, the gentleman and the lady approach me and have the gall to ask me in all seriousness, "Say, young lady, who is this Jim Webb feller?" I look them dead in the eye and answered sarcastically, "He's running against George Allen for United States Senate, sir." He answered, "Oh, who would have known!" Well, he laughed and laughed; that was the funniest thing he has said in years, apparently. I half expected him to beat a drum and claim that he would be here all week. Instead of laughing and high fiving him for his awesome burn, I asked him what he had done to support the troops and the American Constitution lately. He pointed to a ribbon magnet on his car.
Phriendlyjaime - 1
Old man - zip
As soon as all of the signs were up, the supporters flanked opposite sides of the driveway to scream at cars and attempt to get killed. As most bloggers have already noted and opposite of what the RTD will undoubtedly say, the Webb supporters outnumbered the Allen supporters. The Webb supporters were also all old enough to vote, while there were at least six children out past their bedtime in Allen stickers. They did not look happy, and the parents were completely out of touch with reality by allowing their children to stand in the dark and so close to oncoming traffic. Party of family values, huh?
Webb supporters- 2
Allen supporters - 1
There was definitely tension in the air. People would cheer as a car passed by with their bumper sticker of choice, and signs were waved dangerously close to windows. People chanted loudly, and there were also periods of silence. Randomly, supporters would yell snarky and funny comments. The Webb supporters CLEARLY won on humor; at one point, some Republican yelled "Where's Barber?" to which Thaddaeus Toad yelled back, "Where's Foley? And Delay? And Cheney? And Abramoff? Hey, where's JOHN WARNER in supprt of George Allen?" A few Allen supporters welcomed us to America and Virginia, because continuing to make fun of Siddarth is apparently ok in their book.
Thaddaeus Toad- 1
Allen supporters - 0 (they lost their point by continuing the attacks on Siddarth and anyone who may disagree with them)
Thaddaeus Toad and the Webb supporters (all volunteers, btw, and from all over the state) continued the hilarity. To drown out our louder and more enthusiastic cheering, one Allen supporter got his SUV, drove it right next to the Allen group, left the car on with the stereo playing, and blasted that horrible country pop version of "Proud to be an American/God Bless the USA." No, I am not kidding.
So, as they sang the song and swayed and thought about all they have done for the troops by singing, getting magnets for their cars, and hating Democracy and the Constitution, several Webb supporters made sure to add to the song with bits of truth and facts. Simply, the part of the song everyone knows which goes something like, "...and I'll proudly (gladly? I don't know-I can't stand that song) stand UP!!!! Next to you...." was responded to by Thadd and others with, "Except, not really." I thought it was brilliantly succinct and hilarious. Note again to Allen camp: songs, like signs, don't vote.
Thaddaeus Toad- 2
Allen supporters - zip again
Then, Allen drives in. He arrives in an SUV to a chorus of "Go Jim GO!" which definitely drowned out the cheers from his side of the street. He gave that mealy mouthed smile and the not-so-presidential-anymore wave. He refused to look over at any of us. Shortly after, Jim arrived in his RV. We screamed and yelled and cheered and smacked the RV on the side. Mac slowed down, and they waved and smiled. Jim Webb actually smiled and waved to the Allen supporters, something Allen would not do. Nice show of class, Jim Webb.
Jim Webb - 1
George Allen - 0
That was when things got crazy. All of the supporters in attendance rushed to the entrance of the building for the yelling match as the candidates went inside. Except, no one really saw them go inside, so our yelling and sign waving was for the benefit of the media. It was very spirited and very loud. The choruses included in no particular order:
Go Jim GO
6 More Years
Vote Him OUT
The Webb supporters were louder, and had more stamina. We were clearly more spirited and had more energy. But, NOTHING could have been better than to watch the Allen supporters faces when this chant was started:
Nah nah nah nah...nah nah nah nah...George Allen...Goodbye!
They did NOT like that. So their response?
ISSUES! Jim Webb doesn't have any issues!
Which was promptly responded with one lone call of:
Racism IS an issue!
The media crowd packed it in to prepare to go inside for the debate, which signalled the end of the yelling match.
Webb supporters - 3
Allen supporters - 0
At that point, most supporters left to go home and watch the debate. I got in my car, and helped grab the last of the Webb signs that had to be removed at the request of PBS. Almost every one of them had already been snagged by a couple of our best volunteers (extra bonus point for Webb supporters). I then found Thadd, turned the car around, and drove back to attend the debate. Pre-debate final tally:
Webb supporters - 4
Allen supporters - 0
Phriendlyjaime - 1
Old man - 0
Thaddaeus Toad - 2
Jim Webb - 1
George Allen - 0
More on "reporting from the inside" coming soon...