Monday, October 06, 2008

With Ticket in Hand, I'm Denied Access to the Gov. Sarah Palin Rally in Fort Myers

Up until today I was an undecided voter. Yes, I know. Hard to believe this registered Democrat was undecided. But thanks to Gov. Sarah Palin and the Florida Republican Party, I've made my choice and voting with my party.

Last week I blogged how I had coveted Palin tickets for her rally in Fort Myers today. Little did I know that anyone could just show up early to the Governor Sarah Palin Rally at Germain Arena in Fort Myers and be admitted. Forget those of us who were diligent and obtained tickets in advance. I'm thankful I wasn't one who stood in line for hours to get the free tickets because the tickets didn't guarantee admission.

Yes, we were told that although you needed a ticket to attend the rally and only 9,000 were issued, voters could just show up early and get in. Plus, one woman approached me and said, "Oh, I feel bad for you. At least you had a real ticket, mine was a photocopied one." WHAT????

If I photocopied a pair of tickets to the Super Bowl, would I be able to just waltz in? [Note: I give SD credit for that one.]

This is what happened:

11 a.m. Doors opened to the Arena.

1:30 p.m. I arrived on site, by the time I found a nice berm to park on in the nearby outlet mall, it was about 1:45 p.m.

2:00 p.m. The line was insanely long to get in. It snaked around a few times.

2:39 p.m. Was told Germain Arena was at capacity and THOUSANDS (at least 2,000) were turned away. I heard on news reports about 8,200 were admitted into the arena.

2:45 p.m. Crowd thins and a die-hard crowd stays, did they also take the afternoon off from work and drive an hour to attend? Crowd eventually thinned to about 50 and rumors start circulating that they'll let us in.

3 p.m. Palin scheduled to begin her speech but think she began after that.

3:20 p.m. "No more people. End of story." Paraphrasing what the fire marshal said. Sitting on a table was a stack of tickets! (Wish I snapped a photo of it.)

I saw one girl (20-something) breakdown in tears because she couldn't get in.

For the next hour, wandered around the arena figuring out where Palin would leave the building. I had taken off the afternoon, drove an hour and spent at least two hours waiting around, I wasn't going to leave until I saw Sarah Palin. When the Straight Talk Express Bus arrived, I figured which way Palin would exit the property.



While waiting for Palin, saw Gov. Charlie Crist, Crist's fiancee, and who I thought was former Gov. Jeb Bush but it turned out to be Senator Mel Martinez. Definitely a Republican lovefest.

Eventually, Sarah Palin popped out of the arena (around 4:30) and hopped on the bus. I wasn't sure where she was, couldn't get that close due to security. Looking at my photos, I snapped one of the back of her head. Take a look in the photo album.

And then it was over. Stood in line in the 90-degree sun for an hour (although the rain showers were refreshing) and stalked around the arena another hour or so all for what? I'll tell you what, to help me make an important choice, to stick with my party and vote Obama/Biden.

According to tonight's 11 p.m. broadcast of ABC News 7 in Fort Myers, 15,000 tickets were printed for the rally. Let me ask you this, do we really want a party who can't do math? I mean, if the arena capacity was just under 9,000 and 15,000 tickets were printed, something doesn't seem right. That means 6,000 people are going to be turned away. Granted, there's a no show rate factor built in but this isn't an airline. Sarah Palin has star quality and the Florida Republicans must have known most everyone who picked up tickets would show up.

What's disheartening is knowing tickets were given away at he door. Where's the integrity in turning away thousands of voters? Wasn't my ticket a promised entry into the event? It's almost as though a promise was broken. Plus, I'm a customer service snob and let me tell ya people, today's action was poor customer service.

If the Republicans can't figure out that 15,000 is greater than 9,000, what's going to happen when they're dealing with figures with more zeros?

Senator Joe Biden will be in town Wednesday, check out the schedule over at the News-Press. I hope his camp learns from today's awful lesson and does it right (of course they will): Don't over promise if you can't deliver and put some recycling bins out in the parking lot.

And sorry Senator Biden, I'd love to come out and see you but my wounds are too fresh from today's disaster. This was my first and most likely my last political rally I'll ever attend.