Wow! What a day yesterday! I was really excited about the FairTax rally that was going to be held yesterday at the Gwinnett Civic Center and boy did it ever exceed my expectations! I have spent long hours over the past year working hard for Governor Huckabee and his causes but I had yet to get the pleasure to meet him in person. Finally I had my chance and it turned out to be an unforgettable experience!!
When I woke up yesterday morning it was like my Birthday and Christmas morning all wrapped up in one day! My excitement knew no bounds! My ride was scheduled to arrive between Noon and 12:30 to try and beat the crowd and after Breakfast I had no time to lose! After getting ready and making sure I looked as nice as I could possibly be in a rush it was time for me to hurry up and wait.
My friend Edward (who snapped the picture above) took “the wrong turn at Albuquerque” and ran late. While waiting I could have eaten lunch but my mind was preoccupied with a race of thoughts and feelings sweeping through my mind. When my friend finally drove up we had no time to lose because we didn’t want to hit the crowd of people that was sure to be there and did eventually show up.
We got there about an hour-45 minutes before the rally was supposed to start and the room was filling up with excited and enthusiastic people. FairTax shirts and signs were everywhere! I also saw numerous Mike Huckabee shirts and buttons on other people who were not wearing FairTax paraphernalia. Thanks to Edward we took a perfect position to the right of the stage at the edge of the roped off area where the dignitaries were going to climb up on the stage. And then we waited… Governor Huckabee was running a tad late and they held things up for a few moments. As we waited the crowd broke into FairTax chants (led by the wonderful Lyn Williamson – she’s a great cheerleader!)
Then Senator Saxby Chambliss walked in with his wonderful wife to a round of enthusiastic applause. They were followed by Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine. Then a huge roar went up as Governor Huckabee made the scene with Congressman Linder. The applause was penetrated with chants of “Huck-A-Bee! Huck-A-Bee!” The chant started every time that Mike was introduced and especially before he spoke. Then as the dignitaries made their way to the stage I knew my moment had arrived.
Mike made a beeline towards the stage and turned towards where I was and embraced me. The handshake turned into a big bear hug. Governor Huckabee told me how great it was to see me and that I could make it out. He thanked me for all my hard work for him and his causes and told me that he appreciated me despite the fact that I am a fan of the Georgia Bulldogs. Then I let him shake a few more hands and before he turned away I motioned back towards him and gave him a soft Hog call (“Wooo Pig Soeee”). As a huge Dawg fan, he is the only person I would do that for. So I hope he realizes how much of a treat that was. He did give me two big thumbs up before he turned away.
After Governor Huckabee climbed up on stage to take his seat, his companion came by. I wondered what he was doing. I thought maybe he was to make sure I was okay and didn’t do anything to harm The Governor. Actually he came to take me ON STAGE!! I wish I had gotten his name so I could have thanked him properly afterwords (I actually feel quite bad that was not more polite to him…but I was lost in the heat of the moment EDIT – I now know his name is Drake Jarman. What a nice guy!). He said, “Hello Brian. Please come with me and hold on tight as we go up the stairs.” After climbing up on stage and walking behind his chair, Mike stood up again to embrace me in front of all the dignitaries. I really felt like a VIP and that I was someone important! I was beaming for sure!
As you can see in the photo next to this text (Courtesy of the AJC) I stood right behind the chairs of Governor Huckabee and Senator Chambliss. Soon after I took my place the rally begun.
The first speaker was the National Chairman of Americans For Fair Taxation, Ken Hoagland. Boy can he ever give a speech! He spoke about the direction the movement was headed and that it was more and more successful because of grassroots supporters like US, the 2,000-plus enthusiastic supporters that were at the rally.
At this juncture I must note that there were a very limited amount of chairs. Except for about 50 of those everyone else at the rally stood for over an hour and a half! Some of these folks came from as far away as South Carolina and Tennessee. Talk about dedication!
It was about this time that I realized that while I was running on adrenaline that I had not eaten since 9 AM. It was 2:45 PM. I was beginning to get light headed. My senses kicked in and they told me that I better not bring any attention to anything other than the cause and I better take action to keep myself from embarrassing myself and everyone else in the unlikely event that I might pass out. So I motioned over to someone and there was an empty seat on the far left side of the stage. I spent the rest of the rally seated with the dignitaries. Standing beside me was a candidate for Public Service Commission, Bubba McDonald.
Next up was our state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine. He is running for Governor in 2010 and I look forward to working on his campaign. He is running on the FairTax and wants to evoke Article V of the Constitution and have limited Constitutional conventions nationwide to overturn the 16th Amendment and enact the FairTax. While on stage he told us how hard he was working and already had the support of South Carolina’s Lt. Governor Andre Bauer. Oxendine is really putting his political job on the line for us. If he is unsuccessful running for Governor he cannot return to his job as Insurance Commissioner.
After speaking, Oxendine introduced my Rep in Congress and the sponsor of the FairTax in The House, John Linder. John Linder is like Teddy Roosevelt. He speaks softly and carries a big stick. He gets things done. Out of all the speakers he was the most soft spoken but he was very passionate about his cause While soft you could hear the raw emotion in his voice for the FairTax and for getting Saxby re-elected.
Next up was Syndicated talk show host, Neal Boortz (who co-authored the two best selling books about the FairTax). He did not talk very long but he did excite the crowd and make us laugh. Neal asked us why we were not chanting for him and the two rounds of chants were followed by hilarious retorts. After that he touched on the FairTax in the election cycle and revealed a beautiful portrait of Governor Huckabee that I am seeing for the first time after the fact (the portrait was not shown to the back so all we saw was the back of the frame.
After that Boortz introduced the man I had been waiting all day to hear from, Governor Mike Huckabee! Mike was fantastic! He had the longest speech of the entire rally and had us all eating out of his hands. Each ovation was louder than the last. He spoke about the FairTax, the benefits and connected them all to the Senate runoff involving Senator Saxby Chambliss. Speaking of Saxby, Huckabee reiterated his endorsement of the Senior Senator from Georgia. Of course his wit and humor were definitely on the display. He called all the votes in Minnesota turning up out of nowhere “Frankenvotes” and jokingly asked us if we could not convince someone to vote for Saxby that we keep them from the polls by “letting the air out of their tires.” His new book, coming out tomorrow will have an entire chapter dedicated to the FairTax and I can’t wait to read about it (stay tuned for another post coming up soon).
Mike built the audience up to a fever pitch as he introduced Senator Saxby Chambliss. Compared to Governor Huckabee, he spoke briefly (but it was longer than his usual stump speech). This was by far the most I had ever hear him talk about the FairTax anywhere. Saxby talked about a few other issues but mostly he stayed on message for the rally.
After Senator Chambliss spoke, the rally ended with the singing of the National Anthem, led by Bubba McDonald. He has a fantastic singing voice! A great ending to a fantastic rally! Afterwards I stuck around on stage for a few minutes, took another photo with Mike, met a few of the dignitaries who were very interested in meeting me and seemed impressed with what I had done. I really felt like a very important person.
It was a fantastic rally! The turnout was extremely fantastic based on the fact that the rally was planned with little advanced notice. The crowd was raucous and enthusiastic! It sounded like a Sarah Palin event, like the ones I saw on TV. People were shouting to the rafters, nothing mean spirited or offensive but more like an old time church camp meeting. I just can’t say enough about how much it was an honor and privilege to meet Governor Huckabee. He made sure my day and experience was unforgettable and I was treated like a VIP. I’ll never forget it. THANK YOU GOVERNOR HUCKABEE!!!
Note – I am still going through pictures, waiting on some more from friends, and looking out for videos. I will add to this post as time goes on so check back in the next day or two.Also I’d like to thank “DeputyJ” O’Toole who took some of the photos on this post.