Wednesday, November 18, 2009

200? 150? 125? 100? How many people attended the Cheney event with Kay?

Initial reports put the number at 200 (link). Talking to someone who was there, I have been told 125 were at the airport and 50-60 people were at her fund raiser later in the evening... needless to say this person is a strong Kay supporter who is feeling a little down in the dumps.

Jason Embry pegged the rally number at "over 100" (link). Excerpt follows...

The Republican primary is open to any registered Texas voter, but Hutchison's campaign is convinced that Democrats won't participate. Instead, they hope Cheney will cut into Perry's strength among Republican stalwarts.

"I wasn't too sure about him when he was in office, but I like the fight he has shown since he left," said Jim Springer, a Houston retiree who was among more than 100 supporters at Hutchison's event Tuesday. "I wish he would run (for president) in 2012."

Embry also had these observations (link)...

• Houston radio host Edd Hendee warmed up the crowd, and he’s still angry about the margiins tax that Perry pushed in 2006 to cover part of the cost of property tax cuts. Before the event started, the DJ played, among others, the Toby Keith song and “Right Now” by Van Halen. Ken Herman tells me “Right Now” is very popular at political events.

• Cheney spoke for about five minutes and Hutchison for about 10. The only other person on stage was Ray Hutchison, the senator’s husband. “Mercy,” Cheney said as he took the stage to a very warm reception, a crowd of about 150 instructed not to wave their signs too high so that they wouldn’t obstruct the view of the half-dozen television cameras behind them. He made only a couple of passing references to Perry, never mentioning him by name. The closest thing he said to a direct hit was this: “Texas needs a true conservative champion in the governor’s office. We westerners know the difference between a real talker and the real deal. And when it comes to being conservative, Kay Bailey Hutchison is the real deal.”

• Hutchison and Cheney worked the short rope line, such as it was, after their brief speeches. There weren’t supposed to be any questions from the press, but Herman got one in that you’ll have to watch in the video below.

Other media reports put the number at Houston Hobby at 150 (link). Excerpt follows...
Cheney and Hutchison stood before a spray of American and Texas flags on a makeshift stage in an art deco building that was Hobby Airport's original terminal. About 150 Hutchison supporters showed up.

The Cheney appearance was a major moment for Hutchison's campaign. In show business, corralling a big name is called a "get." And in the constellation of conservative Republicanism, Cheney is a get – a former vice president and prodigious critic of the Obama administration.

Perry has his own "get" – former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who is expected to campaign with him before next March's GOP primary. Perry is focused on his party's right wing, a constituency expected to show up in force in the primary. And Palin plays exceptionally well to that crowd.

As for Cheney, while his favorable ratings among Americans overall remain low, he's popular among the GOP faithful. Still, Hutchison needs to bring November Republicans who do not usually vote in the primary to the ballot in March, and it's not clear whether bringing Cheney to Texas helps woo that crowd.

"He adds nothing," said Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Legal Institute, a leading social conservative activist and a Perry supporter.

Clearly, the Hutchison people hope otherwise. Cheney delivered a five-minute speech, citing Hutchison's record of supporting tax cuts in Washington and, he said, leading the fight to kill the income tax in Texas.

I think Kelly Shackelford is overstating the case. Cheney definitely adds something... he was a huge name to get, and his endorsement had to have been a jolt for Kay and her campaign. At the same time if Kay and Dick Cheney can only draw 150 people then his big positives with conservatives might only slightly outweigh the negatives with liberals and moderates who may now view her with suspicion.

While Kelly Shackelford and other highly tuned in people are paying attention to this race closely and have already made up their minds I think there are still some people out there who have not paid any attention yet... we are getting closer and closer to the finish line though, and it will come up fast.

If Kay's number one event of her entire campaign can only draw in 150 people then there is a serious enthusiasm gap. Kay needed this event to spark some momentum. If anything it had to have been a disappointment. Enthusiasm is the same as turnout. Enthusiasm is what wins primaries. Kay doesn't have it on her side right now, and time is ticking on ways to get it.

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