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June 5, 2008

A Matter Of Size


(click for stadium view)

Getty photographer Mario Tama forwarded me this image back in February while on the road with McCain.  The image is from Villa Park, Illinois, and details how a rally in an indoor arena was sectioned off to avoid any perception of empty seats.

Although Mario points out this kind of tailoring is standard operating procedure for all campaigns, the image came to mind two weeks ago when the White House and the McCain campaign called off a fundraiser at the Phoenix Convention Center at the last minute.  According to the Phoenix Business Journal: "…there were concerns about more anti-war protesters showing up outside the venue than attending the fundraiser inside."

What prompted the post was another "size" story at TPM, this one regarding McCain's crowd for his Tuesday night speech countering Obama's nomination-clinching extravaganza at Minnesota's eXcel Center.  According to the newswire, by way of TPM: "The McCain people (were) telling the AP they had McCain speak before a tiny audience 'by design'."

Poor ticket sales, expected protests scuttle Bush-McCain fundraiser at Phoenix Convention Center (Phoenix Business Journal, via TPM)

Design? (TPM)

(image: ©Mario Tama.  February 2008.  Illinois.  Used by permission)

  • catfood

    McCain likes having a field of green behind him. Something to fall back on, like his wife’s money.

  • donna

    I imagine they are paying the faithful to show up, at this point.

  • black dog barking

    They’d rather we saw the candidate as an inspirer of frenzy, the fifth Beatle or one of the Monkees during their fifteen minutes or so way back when. ‘Course it doesn’t help when one’s opponent is out there making crowds appear without the promotional legerdemain.
    The new approach looks like Me Too Maverick.

  • a-j

    RE: According to the Phoenix Business Journal: “… there were concerns about more anti-war protesters showing up outside the venue than attending.”
    That sentence is missing something… it should go like this… “more anti-war protestors showing up outside the venue than McCain supporters attending.”
    Reminds me of Bush saying this about evil doers everywhere… “They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

  • dermot

    I witnessed a Bob Dole rally in Glendale, California in 1996. The public (all 10 of us) were kept a full block away behind barricades, while Bob croaked at the rent-a-mob around his podium. There couldn’t have been more than 200 hundred there, all bunched in nice and tight for good close-up shots.
    I work in animation. One of the big rules in storyboarding is to show an establishing shot – a wide image that shows the area fully, so the audience can get a good idea as to the layout of the environment. When you’re not shown a wide shot, there is a good chance that your perception is being manipulated.
    I don’t expect to see many establishing shots of the McCain campaign if this is anything to go by.

  • scorpion

    I think it’s just a matter of time, and we’ll find ourselves being presented with a purely animated crowd, the politician performing in front of a green screen in a small, comfortable studio. The animation technology to fool our eyes in such a way is almost here. A manufactured campaign trail for the manufactured politician. Just imagine the many advantages for the campaigners: complete control over the behavior, size and make-up of the crowd, little or no need for security, renting various halls, or extensive travel; and of course multiple takes with extensive editing will be possible for a moving speech.

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