McCain rallies supporters in midnight speech

Brock Harrington

Of all the places and events John McCain could hold his last rally before voters go to the polls, the location had to be on the corner of Gurley Street and Montezuma Street, and just after a Hank Williams Jr. performance.

The Arizona senator, who traveled to seven different states the day before the election, ended his day with his second midnight rally in as many days. But this time it came in one of his home-state’s most famous political areas, Prescott, Az.

Forty-eight years ago, former Arizona senator Barry Goldwater announced his presidential campaign on the same steps that McCain essential ended his nearly two year cross-country road to the White House tour.

The only thing left after the Prescott rally was the votes. McCain drove the point home to the thousands of people that surrounded the courthouse block.

“With all the momentum we’ve seen the past three days . all we have to do now is get out and vote,” McCain told the crowd who stayed out past midnight to listen to him.

McCain spoke briefly and gave his familiar talking points using his experience in congress as a reason to be president. McCain was joined on stage with his wife, Cindy, two of his daughters and senator Joe Lieberman.

Steve Rryning, Mike Robitalle and Jacob Ekren waited four hours to watch the senator give his last speech. The three, looking about as Arizona as a person can look, as they wore cowboy hats, leather jackets and boots to match, said the moment they heard McCain was coming to Prescott, they instantly made decided to see him.

“I almost crapped my pants when I heard he was coming, then I heard Hank Williams Jr. was coming, and I was like ‘no way, I’m definitely going,'” Robitalle said.

Arizona Republican politicians spoke throughout the night and in-between songs from a live band, which was struggling to fill the time as they waited for McCain to arrive by helicopter. John Shadegg, a congressman from Arizona’s third district, who spoke moments after a short performance from Hank Williams Jr., spoke of the liberal media, and not trusting certain polls.

When some members of the traveling press did arrive, some crowd members began to heckle them as they got off the bus.

Shadegg’s warm-up speech was slightly drowned out from the battalion of Barak Obama supporters marching around the block. Protesters, such as Matt McGrew and Kim Baron, wearing an Obama yard sign over their shirts, said they expected a large crowd, and wanted to make their presence felt.

“Arizona is definitely a conservative state . It was the crowd we were hoping for,” McGrew said.

Montezuma Street, also known as Whiskey Row, saw its saloons boom with business on what is a normally a slow night, according Ashley Miller a bartender at Matt’s Bar. Miller learned that McCain would be holding a late night rally less than 100 yards away from the bar on Sunday night.

“Monday isn’t even my normal night,” Miller, who had made plans to fill in for a co-worker last week. “Normally, no one comes out (on Monday) so I thought that I would have an easy night.”

What she got, and the rest of the businesses got, was a line that circled the courthouse making Montezuma Street look more like Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras then the Monday night before Election Day.

The Prescott speech marks the last event McCain will have before he makes his way to Phoenix’s famous Biltmore Hotel and Resort on Election Day. McCain is currently trailing Obama in most polls, but that didn’t seem to stop last night’s crowd from showing optimism.

“It’s a tough race, but I think McCain has it in him to win (the election),” Ekren said.

Contact public affairs reporter Brock Harrington at [email protected].