Sarah Palin and the Phoenix Tea Party Rally

by francine Hardaway on October 22, 2010

Needless to say, today was my first Tea Party Rally. I decided to go with a few friends, because we wanted to see if Sarah Palin was anything like what we had heard or read.

The Rally, which took place outside the State Capitol at noon, was in some ways predictable, and in some ways totally unexpected. Here are some observations.

1) The crowd was smaller than I expected. I was able to get very close to Sarah Palin and take some very good pictures of her and Trig, who was with her. Trig had a rash on his face.

2)She’s very, very pretty.

3)She had American flags  painted on her toenails.

4) She has enormous performance energy. She’s like an older version of a cheerleader, almost a caricature of what I had seen on TV. And she has damned good makeup.

5)The crowd to see her was adoring, but much smaller than I expected, and not that “into her.” In other words, they were happy to see her, but they didn’t mob her.  Before she spoke, I was able to get quite close to her, and I handed the man next to me, who was much taller, my iPhone and he took the picture you see. I don’t think she’s the next American Idol.

6) There were five or six expensive busses parked at the Capitol, wrapped with Tea Party messaging. You can see them on my Facebook photo album. I am not sure they bespoke a grass roots movement, and I think many of the people in the Arizona State Capitol crowd were from out of town. Or maybe just from outlying areas of the Valley.  Sheriff Joe welcomed the out of towners.

7) Although there were some people with children (and dogs), the audience was overwhelmingly 55-70, and almost entirely white.  Well, entirely white from my perspective, although I can’t claim to have seen everybody.

8) There were lots of vendors selling Tea Party swag — t-shirts, books, buttons, CDs. I think they expected more of a turnout.

9) This was clearly a “Get Out the Vote” Rally, with everyone saying “we are only days away from taking back our country.” The Arizona part of it was represented by Sen. Russell Pearce and Sheriff Joe, who were most concerned with the issues of illegal immigration, and seemed outraged that a sitting President would sue one of his own states over this issue.

Sheriff Joe began his speech with a tribute to Juan Williams and tied that in to the free speech movement and Obama’s attempt to limit free speech.

The whole thing felt weird to me: as if the “lamestream media”  had blown something fairly small and trivial up into something more important to the cable channels than it was in real life. You wouldn’t believe how many cameras were there to cover such a small rally. I’ve seen more people on the Capitol lawn supporting a bond election:-) Because I know Arizona is so conservative, I expected more support for this rally.

So far, I’ve tried to report this rather than make judgments that are political. I went to see it because the Tea Party is a phenomenon in American politics, and because I don’t like to comment on things I haven’t experienced.

But now I have a hypothesis I’d like to advance:

I think the pollsters might be very wrong about the upcoming election. And that’s because they are polling the people I saw at this rally — the people with land lines. I wonder how many of the pollsters are polling younger people, or working people with cell phones.

The people I saw today were the fearful middle-aged white people who have been outsourced, laid off, and “victimized” by diversity. They looked as if they had been outrun by the pace of change, in every area of their lives. They were familiar: like Rotarians.  They clearly want things to go back to the past — one man came riding a horse, and those Minute Men were there. Everyone talked about bringing it back to how it used to be and taking it back. Everyone prayed and talked about Christ, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem. It was the old days of baseball games and hot dogs, horses and guns, and the Greatest Generation. I didn’t hear anything about taxes; in fact I heard very little political content, except from the local guys.

I was probably the only geek in the place. And that says it all.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Akira Hirai October 23, 2010 at 12:55 am

I really hope you’re right about “The whole thing felt weird to me: as if the lamestream media had blown something fairly small and trivial up into something more important to the cable channels than it was in real life.” and “I think the pollsters might be very wrong about the upcoming election.” nnYour report makes me feel a little more hopeful!

guest October 23, 2010 at 1:05 am

This was my second rally and I only learned Sarah would be speaking on my way down. The crowd seemed smaller than it had been back in May. Most of the people were older, but heck…this was in the middle of a work day. I am in my 40s.rnrnThe performers are not particularly talented and since I’d already seen this show before, I left not long after Sarah did. Great weather, though.

Bobbee October 23, 2010 at 1:46 am

She was in Reno this week too; they expected a few thousand and she had 500; she was in Elko Nevada with a crowd of 100; I think it is the media that make her ‘appear’ to be more important than she really is.

hardaway October 23, 2010 at 1:51 am

I am beginning to see the pattern:-)rnrnFrancine Hardaway, Ph DrnGV: 816.WRITTEN

Guest October 23, 2010 at 2:51 am

Hardaway,rnrnWhy aren’t you noting that she was an unexpected attendee?rnrnShe was not in Elko Nevada.rnrnThe LVRJ reported 2000 while the Las Vegas Sun reported 1000.rnrn

Guest October 23, 2010 at 2:58 am

I’ll also note that the Associated Press reported 1000. I’ll take the AP over you anyday and they confirmed that Palin was a “surprise” attendee.rnrnYour theory about polls is outrageous and a complete joke. Take off your tinfoil hat and you’ll learn that the pollsters are including cell phones.rnrnObama’s personal unfavorable rating in Gallup is 50%. People do not like him personally.

hardaway October 23, 2010 at 3:52 am

I don’t think she was unexpected in Phoenix, as the publicity went out arnweek ago (at least that’s when the friend who invited me saw it.) I surerndon’t know ANYTHING about Elko, NV:-)

Guest October 23, 2010 at 4:08 am

Here’s the problem Hardaway….everyone else is reporting it as a “surprise.” You may have been one of the few people who knew she would attend. Here is the support for my argument. Notice the word “surprise.”rnrnPalin’s surprise visit rn”As the surprise guest at a Tea Party Express rally Friday in Phoenix”rnrnI’ll be nice and not accuse you of lying. But you knew something that conservatives and the MSM didn’t know if you expected her.

Guest October 23, 2010 at 4:10 am

Palin makes surprise appearance at Arizona rallyrn Hardaway, I’ll assume on good faith that you aren’t lying but all the evidence shows that she was not expected to be in attendance and that her appearance was a surprise. Also, this article that I have linked to shows that 1,000 people were there.rnrnThink about it hardaway. If she was expected to be there, why did she only speak for two minutes? Wouldn’t a “surprise” appearance appear more consistent with a two-minute speech?

hardaway October 23, 2010 at 4:46 am

Hmmm. From what I knew, there was publicity. Did they call it a surprise tornexplain away the weak crowds?

Patisok October 24, 2010 at 3:54 am

You think on TV they would show the “crowd” but no they play it up. President Obama draws 10s of thousands and no one cares. I do agree that most of the so called media is lame. One sided view of this election cycle.

Patisok October 24, 2010 at 3:55 am

I like him a lot and talk about tin foil hat. You guys take the cake.

hardaway October 24, 2010 at 3:56 am

I think they try to make it seem as if it were worth their time to bernthere:-)

Anonymous October 25, 2010 at 10:33 pm

It’s awfully nice of you to do everything BUT imply Francine was lying, but why? It’s obvious from her actions the past year and a half, Sarah Palin goes NO WHERE without some pre-arrangement as to perks for her, entourage, payment, and publicity.nnThe publicity in this case was, no doubt, “make it low key, as if it’s unexpected”. nnAnd she spoke only for (I heard it was for) 10 minutes because the racket caused by her own loud voice and the shouting from the crowd upset the 2-1/2 year old child she apparently felt obligated to bring along (why?), and the child burst out crying and was quite upset.

Anonymous October 25, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Since you brought up PRESIDENT

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