Sarah Palin’s approval ratings may be tumbling outside the confines of the GOP’s Christian conservative base, but it appears no one in Blaine has gotten that memo. This morning a very robust crowd of thousands — seemingly dominated by women, many bearing signs like “Palin Power” and “Hockey Moms for McCain/Palin” — filled about two-thirds of a sprawling airport hangar in this northern metro suburb.
Brian Davis, the GOP challenger to U.S. Rep. Tim Walz in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District, got the crowd lathered up by leading a “Drill, baby, drill!” chant that quickly swept the building. He was followed by Ron Schara, the popular outdoorsman and host of KARE-11’s “Minnesota Bound,” who topped off his endorsement of McCain with this encomium to Palin: “And now he has Sarah on his side. She hunts, she fishes, she lives in the last frontier — what else is there to say?”
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann took the stage with a rhetorical question. “So how do you feel about pro-life mothers of five?” That brought raucous cheers from the crowd, which impelled Bachmann to even dizzier oratorical heights. “They’re wearing their white hats!” she proclaimed. “They’re on their horses! They’re coming over the horizon!”
But they weren’t — quite yet. As the crowd buzzed in anticipation, the loudspeakers blasted out rock tunes, the most striking of which was Kenny Loggins’ 1986 “Top Gun” soundtrack hit, “Danger Zone.” Some of the lyrics:
Headin’ into twilight
Spreadin’ out her wings tonight
She got you jumpin’ off the track
And shovin’ into overdrive
Highway to the Danger Zone
I’ll take you
Right into the Danger Zone
There are those who would find irony in those lyrics, but there seemed to be no ironists in the crowd today — only true believers, and lots of them.
Palin and McCain each spoke for about 15 minutes, and both enjoyed a fairly rapturous reception. Palin began her speech by warning of the dangers purportedly posed by Iran, which, in her words, is trying to acquire the weapons necessary to create “a second Holocaust.” She introduced her subpoena-ducking husband Todd Palin, “the first dude,” and later drew her greatest applause when she told the audience, “There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you.”
McCain has retooled his stump speech yet again in the wake of this week’s crisis on Wall Street. Today he attacked Barack Obama for his ties to James A. Johnson, a former Fannie Mae CEO (and a Minnesota native) who drew fire this summer for having received $2 million in apparent sweetheart loans from the subprime desperados at Countrywide Financial. Johnson led the vice-presidential vetting process for the Obama campaign.
Summing up his anti-Obama broadside, McCain said, “That’s how we see this election–country first or Obama first!”
Waves of “Drill, baby, drill” and “Nobama!” chants filled the hall periodically throughout both candidates’ speeches.