On Monday, Georgia’s U.S. Senate candidates — Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin — had competing rallies around the state in advance of the Dec. 2 critical run-off contest. Martin and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) held four events around the state, while Martin held one main rally in Atlanta in the evening.
The two men’s events couldn’t have been more different. ThinkProgress attended the Chambliss rally in Perry, GA, which took place indoors at the Georgia National Fairgrounds. The attendees were predominantly white, older, and many came with their families. The crowd cheered and clapped enthusiastically, always at the appropriate times.
While people were clearly excited about the GOP candidates, some of it appeared to be manufactured. News reports showed people on-stage holding handmade signs — including ones that read “Palin-Chambliss 2012″ and “Vets for Saxby” — but those were handed out before the event by a campaign aide. A sign in the entrance to the venue said that attendees were prohibited from bringing in such large signs on their own:
As ThinkProgress reported earlier, Palin’s events throughout the state were largely a rehash of her talking points when she was John McCain’s running mate. At the Perry event, she stressed that Chambliss has a “strong independent spirit,” just like McCain — ignoring the fact that he has voted with the GOP on every single key vote from the 109th Congress onward. Watch a portion of her remarks:
McClatchy reported on some of the reasons people came to hear Palin speak, including one woman who said that she wanted her daughters to “see a fine, upstanding, Christian woman with five kids and a good career” and another who said that Palin was just a “Josephine the plumber or Sarah the fisherman.”
Martin’s event, which was held on the steps of the State Capitol, attracted a smaller crowd, but was far more boisterous, with drivers passing by honking in support. The young, diverse crowd often spontaneously shouted out replies to the speakers, and the event had the atmosphere of a college party. Additionally, Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth took direct aim at Chambliss’s policy positions, specifically noting his record on veterans issues:
In 2004, when I was flying my Blackhawk helicopter north of Baghdad and I got hit with that rocket-propelled grenade that blew up between my legs and took them off — and almost took off my right arm — the only thing that saved me was my buddies and the armor that I was wearing. … In his six years in the United States Senate, Saxby Chambliss has voted against providing armor for our troops. He has been against providing armored vehicles for our troops. And then, when my buddies and I came home, he has been against the G.I. Bill.
Huffington Post’s Sam Stein noted that many of the networks barely covered Palin’s Georgia events.