Pre-speech music-You wouldn't exactly call it hip. Low points were Bachman Turner Overdrive's "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" and John Cougar Mellencamp's "Small Town." Music segued into some light '70s disco and improved somewhat with Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground."
Pre-speech diversions-Youthful political stylings of three candidates for UCSD student-body president seemed to please the equally youthful audience, with the progressive candidate winning the Long Wind Award. An a cappella group-always an acquired taste-started with the curious choice of The Beatles' "I'm Only Sleeping," a tune that is more appropriate for naptime than for a political rally. Group performed too many numbers, unless the plan was to make the crowd restless for the Kerry Thing. Two beach balls tossed into the throng-presumably by the Kerry people-provided all-too-brief fun and games, especially when the balls smacked unsuspecting attendees in the face and atop the head. Light wind proved too strong for continued beach-ball amusement.
Secret service-Fairly unobtrusive, not too intimidating. May have been responsible for confiscating beach balls. It was fun to imagine how the shadowy figure wearing the wide-brimmed hat, perched on top of the Price Center building, might have been a spying Karl Rove.
Opening speeches-Points awarded for allowing students to warm up the crowd. Student president drew laughs with joke about how Kerry would be there in a couple of hours, but the humor didn't score with the press corps in the back. Student environmental activist got off to a rough start by asking, "How're ya doin' tonight?" at 10:30 a.m.
Punctuality-Kerry was pretty much on time, which is huge, especially with the grumpy press corps. Of course, he had little choice but to be on time; well-to-do Democrats with checks burning holes in their pockets waited at a $1,000-a-plate luncheon in La Jolla.
Hecklers-Small group of college boys drew brief attention by smacking flip-flop sandals together, in a reference to opposition's claims that Kerry has a history of flip-flopping the issues. However, they were quickly drowned out by the crowd and drew little attention among the cameramen. Could have been stronger.
Kerry's entrance-Flat introduction by Kerry's daughter, who was momentarily caught off guard by hecklers. Choice of U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" was rousing if not creative. You can never go wrong by descending down a staircase while shaking hands along the way. Good stuff for cameras.
Pandering-Kerry team scored big here, with gas-price signs hung strategically. The Senator played well to people driven to distraction by price of $2.25 for a gallon of regular unleaded. He successfully name-dropped Pacific Beach, where he allegedly partied and surfed while stationed on Coronado.
First major attempt at humor-Lame. Joke about how if gas prices continue to rise, "George Bush and Dick Cheney will have to carpool to work" garnered only courtesy laughter. But he rebounded with gratuitous slam of Halliburton.
Overall-Pretty boring boilerplate campaign media event: George W. Bush bad, John Kerry good, yadda yadda yadda-let's get get outta here and get to the fundraiser.
Press accommodations-Platform barely big enough to hold us all. Complimentary buffet wouldn't have hurt.