Posted by Brad @ 6:51 pm on October 9th 2007

Dispatch From Michigan

Our inaugural one for the new category (I’ll back-label the old ones later).

My friend Kari, who I’ve been doing a lot of work with (she was my partner in crime in New Hampshire), took her traveling roadshow of awesomeness to Michigan today, with another of our Pittsburgh peeps. Again, the idea was to network Meetup groups and various other organizations (by December, it’s my belief that the grassroots are going to have to start linking up considerably), and to raise funds for a few projects (maybe more on that later, though I’ve already referred to one in previous posts).

To get to Dearborn in time, she had to leave Pittsburgh at 730 in the morning. In a car full of hefty bags stuffed with T-shirts, she and Andy (the peep) hit the road.

They arrived a bit later than they would have liked, and set up shop in the parking lot (the police wouldn’t let anybody park it on the sidewalks; even the supporters were requested to keep moving)

The main thrust of her report to me was that there were a LOT of Ron Paul supporters there. What amused her in particular was that (they counted) the list of supporters of other candidates rallying outside the auditorium included:

2 Fred Thompson supporters
15 Mitt Romney supporters
Maybe 300 Ron Paul supporters

End of list.

She was also struck by how orderly the crowd was. Unlike many Ron Paul rallies, which are full of chants, this crowd mostly just paced, carrying big-ass Ron Paul signs. She said they were quiet (relative to most other Ron Paul crowds), polite, decidedly lacking in crazies (“There was a distinctive absence of crazy” is how she put it to me), and young. It being a large state university, she said that the college crowd was out in droves, to an extent that even surprised a lot of the other Ron Paul supporters. Though it was nothing compared to the rally in Ann Arbor later.

The doors to enter the auditorium closed at 3, and because the time scheduling threw some people off, as well as just basic access issues, Kari was worried that only about a 10th of the crowd, maybe less, was ultimately going to get represented in the auditorium (I haven’t watched the debate yet so I can’t comment on the Ron Paul presence inside). People were saying that there was a live feed in another auditorium on campus, so a lot of supporters broke away and went to fill that place up (by the time Kari was ready to head that way, word came back that the place was at capacity).

Being resourceful, and a roving machine of trouble, Kari, I’m sure, led most of the remainder of the crowd—Braveheart-style would be my guess—to a local bar called “The Post”. It had an inside and an outside area, and it apparently filled up in minutes to where it was wall-to-wall Ron Paul supporters, with all the TVs quickly turned to the debate.

About halfway through, a local Meetup Organizer came tearing in saying that a lot of media had (finally) set up outside the debate location, and were getting crowd shots. But, because all the Ron Paul supporters, more or less, were either at the live-feed auditorium, at the event itself, or stuffed into “The Post”, they weren’t getting representative shots of the huge-ass crowd that was actually there for Ron Paul for the debate.

Braveheart-style (and after about 10 minutes as everybody paid up), the Ron Paul bar folks were led BACK to the event to show their strength for the media. Kari said The Post, after the announcement, went from full capacity to tumbleweeds in short order.

Who knows which shots will actually make it to the news. She said that it took awhile to get the Ron Paul crowd en masse to re-congregate outside the event. And, as it happened, the papers reported that the crowds “quietly dispersed after an hour or so into the debate”, when, in fact, they had just split up to mass elsewhere.

At some point, Kari was interviewed by the Detroit Daily News, and there were other reporters and anchors roving through the crowd.

Shortly thereafter, as the debate was winding down, Kari and Andy hit the road to Ann Arbor, where Ron Paul is scheduled to make an appearance at around 730, and were an even BIGGER crowd is expected to mass. She’ll call me after that, on the road back to Pittsburgh, for “Dispatch From Michigan Part II“.

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