|The behind-the-stage crowd, waiting for Madam President to arrive!|
Guest post by violining247
The back story: I ended up in Louisville this weekend with our group of out-of-state volunteers for a final GOTV push. The original plan was to go out canvassing Saturday evening and all day Sunday before heading home. However, our plans were happily derailed when Hillary’s campaign announced a last-minute stop in Louisville and moved the time up to be slightly earlier than originally scheduled. There was some debate as to whether we would be better utilized at the rally or out canvassing, but our organizer came down on the side of sending us to the rally since a) many of the people we’d be canvassing were highly likely to be in church Sunday morning-early afternoon anyway b) we would be there to fire up the crowd and c) we’d be able to get in early enough that those of us who hadn’t yet met Hillary would be able to get close enough to the ropeline to actually do so. So off we went, and below are some of the pictures I snapped on my phone during the event.
Once we got through security and into the union hall, we had a ton of time to kill, to the tune of about 1-1.5 hours. The great part about campaign rallies, though, is it’s generally pretty easy to make friendly conversation with the people around you. We met an absolutely lovely Kentucky educator who was standing near our group, so we passed much of the time talking to her. Mixed in with the friendly chatter was also some rah-rah back and forth cheering to get the crowd warmed up.
|John West, HRC Super Duper Volunteer, leads the crowd in some pre-rally chants. John has now been to 37 states for Hillary!|
|(Same as headline photo) The campaign staffer had just passed out the “Fighting for us” signs. You know it’s almost time for the main event when that happens!|
With the arrival of ever-more Secret Service personnel, it was pretty obvious we were getting close to go-time. Around that time, one of the KY volunteer organizers spoke, as well as a union rep, before U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth took the stage as the last warm-up speaker.
|Rep. John Yarmuth fires up the crowd!|
The Main Event
After Rep. Yarmuth’s speech, I can barely describe the sense of anticipation in the room. I could hardly believe this was about to happen. I was about to see Hillary Clinton herself, in person! To make a totally hokey analogy, it was almost the same feeling as when you’re on a rollercoaster and you’ve just gotten to the very top of the first hill. There’s no going back, and time itself suspends for a fleeting moment.
And then we crested over the top of said rollercoaster. “Fight Song” blasted over the speakers and, led by former Gov. Beshear, Hillary Clinton, in an aura of absolute majesty, entered stage left. We all went nuts. I seriously almost cried, because I couldn’t believe it was all actually happening for real. There she stood, a woman who I’ve admired for so long and have seen in countless videos and photos, not even 50 feet away.
|Sorry this picture kind of sucks...it was really hard to get one that wasn’t blurry and that wasn’t totally blocked by Secret Service, but there she is! What you can’t see (or hear): Me absolutely losing my shit and screaming like I was witnessing the second coming of the Beatles.|
|Former Gov. Beshear introducing Hillary Clinton.|
I snapped a few photos of Hillary during her speech, where (not surprisingly) she spent quite a bit of time talking about labor, trade, and health care. As a side note, I expect we will see similar speeches in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan during the general election campaign. However, I also made it a point to put the camera down and just revel in the experience. It’s not every day one gets to be in the presence of the most admired woman in the world, and I wanted to take in every second that I could.
|Probably my favorite of the bunch.|
|Gosh darn it she looks like such a President!|
|I love the sweeping power gesture:-) Go get ‘em, Hillz!|
After she finished speaking, she exited the stage and began working the ropeline. I wish I’d thought to snap a picture as she was coming around, but I was too busy trying to figure out what I was going to say when she finally got over to me, because I knew I would only have about five seconds to convey what should actually be an essay, and I didn’t want to sound like a stuttering moron and mess up her very well-oiled system for getting to everyone. You’ll see if you ever end up at one of her rallies, each person on the ropeline gets her undivided attention, but for a matter of seconds. You have enough time to say something quick as she grabs the phone or camera and either snaps the selfie herself or has one of the nearby staffers do it.
When she got to me, I actually managed to keep it together (so proud of myself for this!). I said, nearly verbatim, “Thank you so much for everything you’re doing. You’re the first person I’ve ever knocked doors for.” To which she responded, with her hand over her heart and her trademark solemn nod, “Thank you!” It doesn’t sound like much, but for those fleeting few seconds, I had her undivided attention, and I was so grateful. Yes, I also got my selfie, though I have opted not to post it here just to maintain some sense of anonymity. Surprising takeaways from being within inches of Hillary: she is smaller than she looks on TV, but you truly feel the gravitas emanating from her.
After everyone in our group had their moment with Hillary, we headed outside, where we then met the Mothers of the Movement, who were there with her yesterday. Geneva Reed-Veal (Sandra Bland's mother) especially stands out in my memory...she hugged each of us out-of-state volunteers long and hard and thanked us for our work. She was so genuine and her words were so heartfelt...I'm still getting choked up thinking about it. Meeting her and the other Mothers is a moment that will stay with me for a long, long time, especially when I need motivation to make one more phone call or knock one more door. I cannot imagine their pain, and I am truly humbled to have met them.
All in all, yesterday was absolutely incredible. Was it worth 10-12 hours in the car over two days and getting home at 3 this morning? ABSOLUTELY, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Folks, we have an amazing candidate, and I hope you all get a chance to meet her at some point as well!
(originally posted at Daily Kos)