Both candidates’ schedules allowed me the opportunity to attend both events in Wichita. At 11:00 a.m. I joined approximately 1,000 Kansans to see Governor Huckabee. We were all packed in a hangar at the Jabara Airport. Huckabee first took to the stage with the local band Color Blind and jammed out on his base guitar to a song by Lynard Skynard and another one by Stevie Ray Vaughn. Huckabee proved to the crowd that he is musically talented and it was a good way to create energy amongst those in attendance. Huckabee then spoke for approximately 45 minutes about his experience growing up in Arkansas, serving as Lt. Governor and Governor, and his vision for America and his desire to become President. He spoke about being pro-life, supporting the 2nd Amendment, reducing the size of the federal government, and reforming the tax code by supporting the Fair Tax. He also spoke about securing the border, allowing veterans the opportunity to see doctors locally, and maintaining a strong military. He certainly captured the attention of the audience and he very much lived up to the reputation of being the most likeable candidate.
Two hours after Huckabee left the stage I went across town to the Mid-Continent Airport and attended the McCain rally at Hawker Beechcraft. The crowd was noticeably smaller for McCain – approximately 300 people. However, McCain had a larger entourage as he was accompanied by Senator Sam Brownback and other representatives from the State’s GOP. The atmosphere was hardly that of a front-runner and the McCain supporters were not very enthusiastic. McCain also appeared to struggle with his words as he referred to Hawker Beechcraft as “Hawker Cessna” - I wondered at times if McCain knew where he was. His age is a question that should be raised since the job of being President is probably the most grueling and stressful job one could have. The rest of his speech seemed predictable as he continued to try and re-label himself from being a “maverick” to a “true conservative.” He also spoke about how he would personally follow Osama bin Laden to the “Gates of Hell” if that is what it takes to bring him to justice.