At the University (working in web and video), when the institution hosts an event, my team often has to be on hand to record what happens. For events like today's visit by Sarah Palin (and President Clinton's trip earlier this year), I am fortunate to have a great opportunity to see what goes on "behind-the-scenes". For in-depth coverage of the event, The Courier and WFIN have got you covered.
For media outlets that were using larger television/video cameras, someone from the station had to be at the Koehler Complex between 3-4am to set them up. So, at 3:20am (on a very cold morning), two members of my team arrived and got a prime spot...center and at the highest level of the platform
This morning, I got to work just after 6am. Another member of my team was scheduled to work with some individuals from the University student newspaper (The Pulse) to interview people waiting in line, and after making sure they were all set, the rest of my team and I went over to Koehler.
The line to get inside was pretty long. If you know anything about the building, the line stretched from the front door, out to North Main Street, down the sidewalk to Swing Avenue, all the way down Swing to North Cory Street, and then going down South on Cory just past Davis Street. Not as long as the line for when President Bush was at the fairground four years ago, but for a cold 7am, not too bad.
When we arrived at Koehler, we immediately got through the detectors and I got my press credential. A few people asked me afterward why the stack of tires, and I can only assume that it had something to do with this being a 'Road to Victory' tour (not, as some thought, a subtle plea for Cooper to not close the Findlay plant). We hurried into the room, got to the press area...and waited.
If you look at the picture below (click on it for a larger image), you'll see a little bit of the media platform and most of the stage. The media platform was three levels high and 24-feet wide. By the time Palin took to the stage, EVERY spot was taken...people were packed shoulder-to-shoulder on the floor, and the media were the same way.
These events are choreographed so well, and the camera/photogs know what shots they are supposed to take. Looking at the stage, you see the long blue curtain going to the left (with the Ohio 'hearts' Palin). In the corner (just to the left of 'Ohio') is where Palin entered. There were high schoolers on the other side of the runway (you can see them, starting under 'Sarah'). This makes for a great visual as she made her way to the main stage.
At the main stage, you can see the traditional flag background with a nice cross section of people. When the camera does a close-up (what you normally see in news snippets), this is all you need in the background.
Anyway, the event starts with your usual assortment of welcomes and 'rah! rah!' speeches from local/state dignitaries and politicians. Once the preliminaries were over, there was a small break as we were all waiting for her to arrive. During the break, campaign aides started passing signs out (Country First), and then started playing highly-charged music to get the crowd fired up.
You could tell when she was on the building, because a wave of national traveling media hit the press area. They took their places (they had reserved tables, and if you look at the picture, you can see some taped X's on the platform), and the official pool camera person took his position (bottom right of picture, the light is shining on a block of concrete - yes! they poured a block of concrete so the camera operator had a firm place for the tripod). At this point, we knew it was going to be any moment.
When the house lights (seemed to) dim, and then the rainbow of spotlights started spinning around, it felt like you were at a rock concert...and with the music as loud as it was, you could swear you were at one. The announcer introduced the Governor, and when she came through the curtain, the place erupted. I am not sure that McCain would have gotten that sort of introduction, and I talked to more than a few people who said they would have only come to see her.
The room was loud, people were shaking their signs, and cheering at the appropriate breaks in the speech. I was standing right behind the gentlemen running lights and audio for the event, and between watching them work, seeing how national media acts, and making sure my team was doing well, I just wanted to enjoy the atmosphere.
We had watched Palin on CNN yesterday when she was in Nevada, so we knew what she was going to say and how the event was going to go. Substitute her husband for her brother, and the addition of her older daughter, and everything else was a pretty good copy of what we saw. Lee Greenwood sang two songs (although he didn't incorporate 'Ohio' into "God Bless The USA").
After the event was over, I was impressed with how long she stayed to work the line, sign autographs, and chat with some people before finally leaving. It was 15-20 minutes from the end of her speech until she left the stage. Watching individuals being interviewed by the media afterward, they were all positive, and a few independents said they were voting for McCain-Palin based on this (keep in mind that this could have just been spin).
I might have a little more tomorrow, but it is now after 7pm, I am a little tired, and I know that dinner awaits. It appears that (a few) polls are tightening, but will it be enough for the ultimate McCain McComeback? In 13 days, we'll find out.