The good news is, roughly three hours ago I was 5′ away from John Edwards, the next vice president of the United States. The bad news is, two hours ago, I was sitting in a parking lot on 6th street waiting for AAA to come and tow my car away for what may be the 4th time in 6 months.
But let’s focus on the good. John Edwards! In LAWRENCE, KANSAS! Apparently Friday night, while 25,000 of us gathered outside Union Station to give the Kerry/Edwards team a hearty send off, about 1,000 people gathered at the Lawrence train station for a whistle-stop. They got half of what they wanted: a whistle, but no stop. So Edwards (and his wife, who wrote a little piece on the official blog about this and a :
John and I have a special affection for Lawrence. In 1976, we drove my parents’ old station wagon from North Carolina to the Grand Canyon and back. We had so little money that we ate in restaurants only twice — a McDonalds in New Mexico and a Pizza Hut in Lawrence. We stayed in a motel once in Colorado, but only because there was a huge electrical storm that made camping with the gear we had too dangerous. As we came back through Colorado, coming down the Rockies, we inadvertently left the brake on — we thought we had released it fully, the perils of a unfamiliar car — and by the time we got to Kansas the car needed attention. We hadn’t much money, but we found a compassionate mechanic in Lawrence who helped us out for an amount we could afford, and while he worked, we ate that pizza. So, Lawrence, we owe you twice. Don’t worry, we’ll repay that debt. And soon.
) flew from Albuquerque to Topeka and then drove up to a rally in Lawrence. Scheduled for 1 p.m. in the train park, a convenient Kansas rainstorm (similar to the one that came around the time tickets for Clinton’s speech were available) moved the event out of the park and into a nearby bar, Abe & Jake’s Landing. There were maybe 2-3,000 people waiting in line, and at least a thousand got left outside. The rest of us packed in, and this time I was close enough to see Edwards when he finally came in around 1:15 to speak.
The reception was just incredible. People cheered like he was a rock star; when he made his way out into the crowd, people — even little old ladies and tiny children — were elbowing to get closer. The speech was basically the same as Friday night’s, but I still got all fired up just being around so many people who clearly think and believe like I do. He hit all the big points: better health care for all; reducing poverty; rebuilding alliances; reinvigorating the economy. And I finally heard both the “Two Americas” speech and the “my father was a mill worker” lines in person, and you know, they were fairly convincing — particularly the two Americas bit. He grabbed a lot of cheering from our voting-is-an-exercise-in-futility crowd when he said, “There are no red states or blue states, there’s just one United States of America!”
After giving the speech, Edwards and family (his son managed to grab the mic twice, once to say “Kerry/Edwards” and the other to say “Hope is on the way!”) ran outside to meet with the people there, and so I was about 5 feet away from the man himself, blocked from shaking hands only by an inconvenient indoor tree. He darted back down the steps about 15 minutes later and I was again close enough to see but not touch. And as I left, everyone was talking about how maybe this year there’d be a change, this year something good and different would happen. I’ve got to admit, it’s hard to believe that Kerry and Edwards can lose when you’re surrounded by a couple thousand of their biggest fans.
And then on the way home, my car overheated three or four times and finally didn’t want to really restart, so I reacquainted myself with my AAA friends. Now I’m hanging out at home for the remainder of the day, watching for the Lawrence snippet on Headline news (I’ve seen it once already!).