It finally came down to this, then - the Leader and the Contender, separated by a couple of blocks of Milwaukee paving, in the state that birthed the Republican party. The poll numbers are close too. Yet the divide was far greater. Call it the Battle in Brewtown.
Clash in Cream City. Milwaukee: the final conflict
Good coffee, free - feels good in the rain. Lots of places are giving out free stuff, food, etc tomorrow night with a voting receipt
Traffic was a mess - most streets were closed off. People could get in early to the Bush Arena with a ticket. The Kerry crowd braved the rain - no umbrellas were allowed for security reasons. The close proximity of the Leader & the Contender was unusual. for a while there, some of the jokes around here were kinda macabre about the neighborhood being Florida during Charley.
Instapundit notes that there were a few 100 for Kerry as opposed to 11000 for Bush - well, the US Cellular Arena is protected from rain. It doesnt matter really, though. Both sides are ardent and determined to 'get out the vote' - Looks like rain tomorrow as well.
Lunch was a Roast Beef sandwich - the deli was filled with Kerry crowd, and a few Bush supporters. I've had a good discussion with a couple of people.Apparently Mr Bush called on people to get their neighbors, friends, etc. and "discerning Democrats" to vote. His speech was heavy on 'family values'. He got crazy cheers from the crowd everytime he spoke. Lots of State Government Officials at his rally, this being a Republican state (which isnt necessarily the same as a Red State)
The mood was healthy, positive, the theater district is next door and if not for the rain, we'd be much happier. Absolute party atmosphere. The crowd was very thin as a result. Real-time blogging was fun - TGFHS (thank god for hotspots)
Here is a webcam image of the closest freeway
The Leader was in the US Cellular Arena, fronted by Brooks and Dunn, then the Oak Ridge Boys. He was introduced by the erstwhile Governor of Wisconsin, Tommy Thompson to a sizable crowd. On the other hand, the Contender was on the rainy, cold streets of Milwaukee, in front of City Hall, introducing Jon Bon Jovi. Bon Jovi's "Undivided" gets rave applause. This city loves music. John Kerry was late, said he would never forget this rally, praised the youth, and referenced Eminem's Mosh earlier, mentioning that he heard him on this week's SNL The Kerry campaign also has an Internet-only 'closing' campaign. Very net-savvy crowd - Howard Dean had that right, at least.
Musically and culturally, there could be little similarity between the musical choices. One artist is the leader of one of the most popular metal acts in history, with a new album rendering post-9/11 feelings.
Where we once were divided, now we stand united
We stand as one... undivided.
How many hands? how many hearts?
How many dreams been torn apart?
Enough, enough... the time has come to rise back as
Brooks and Dunn, have had rave reviews for their recent album and reinvents country rock in a powerful, back-to-roots manner. It almost felt like Summerfest had been moved to November. This was a day after Milwaukee's heart - both ventricles.
Red Dirt Road is sort of the Seabiscuit of country records--a cornball bit of entertainment that works because it carries great truths.
The uniting thread was the ardent desire on both sides to express their identity and views, and prevail. In the end, one recalls the poet himself, Bob Dylan,
You may be an ambassador to England or France,
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance,
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world,
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.
Rock the Vote, Country-style!
Note: Excellent article, summing the day up at the Times of London