The hot sun, the signs and Wright State

Jeff Russ

Dayton – It was an hour wait from the end of the line at 8:30 a.m. in Dayton today, where around 11 a.m. John McCain announced that Alaska governor Sarah Palin would be the Republican nominee for vice president.

Early on it was more like Disneyland than a political rally outside the Nutter Center on the campus of Wright State University. The sky was perfectly blue and the sun was hot. The line stretched back for miles and there were vendors selling anti-Obama shirts and McCain buttons on every corner. A car alarm went off in the parking lot.

The people

The number of students from Wright State lacked today. Much of that was a result of the end of the summer semester. No students were living on campus but some from the area still showed up.

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” said Katie Viver, a 21-year-old student at Wright State.

“I called off work to be here,” she said. “It makes me proud that he came here. Besides the fact that he is the next president, he is a war hero.”

Viver was with 20-year-old Thomas Latta who also is a student at Wright State. He was interested in foreign policy issues, including Russia and China. Both said they were in favor of offshore drilling.

Brett Sanders wasn’t even on the Nutter Center’s concrete after an hour in line. He and his friends were lined up in a circle and Sanders had on a “Mitt Romney for President” shirt. While Romney was his choice for McCain’s vice president, he wasn’t limiting himself to just the former governor of Massachusetts.

“It is a great selection of candidates,” he said.

Sanders graduated from Indiana University a few months ago. He said it was important to see McCain reveal his running mate because the election was making history. A number of issues were important to him, including lowering taxes and adding jobs. He said he is against gay marriage and abortion.

A relatively quiet morning shifted quickly with clamor from in front of the Nutter Center.

The Protests

Deryl Hall came to the AFL-CIO rally outside to protest McCain’s stance on health care and the economy. He lives in Southern Ohio but lived in Kent for 15 years and graduated from Roosevelt in 1984.

He arrived at the rally around 10 a.m. but said he would stay “as long as it takes.”

The protest started small around 9:30 a.m.

About nine people took their places and held up signs that read “McCain loves NAFTA,” “McCain – own your failure now,” and “Heartland against McCain.” It didn’t take long for a counterpart to stand next to the group with his own sign, “NObama, the Stop Obama Express.”

Ohio Political Communications Specialist for the AFL-CIO Mike Gillis helped organize the event. He said it was important to protest McCain’s foreign trade policy.

“Our biggest issue is McCain’s policy on fair trade – NAFTA and China,” he said. “The Miami Valley has lost 38,000 jobs the past years. Job security has become a thing of the past in the Dayton area and all of Ohio and essentially working families cannot make it anymore.

“(Families) are being pushed out of good-paying jobs and the only other jobs they can find are at or near minimum wage.”

The rest of his group spent an hour stuck in traffic, but when they arrived the protestors made sure their voices were heard.

Back-and-Fourth

“John McCain, more of the same,” the protesters shouted as the crowd looked on.

Most of the people ignored or tuned out the group, but every now and then someone would fight back.

People in line yelled “Vote For” when the group started the “John McCain more of the same” chant. For at least a few minutes those yelling back drowned out the protest. But the group grew larger and added other issues, including women’s rights.

While many people waiting to go see McCain shouted back at the protesters, some in line didn’t mind.

“I think this is just the sort of thing McCain fought for,” Tim Craven said. “I’m perfectly fine with these protesters out here, they are free to do it.”

Craven, in a blue shirt with an American Flag tie, took a second to get a picture of the protesters before walking in shortly before 11 a.m.

Then the speech

A faint sound of the crowd cheering was heard outside the Nutter Center. Soon after, the protest was over. A few people stayed and displayed their signs, but by 11:15 the outside of the Center was bare and John McCain had a running mate.

Contact public affairs reporter Jeff Russ at [email protected]