Something was missing from the first of John McCain's seven campaign stops today: the crowd.
Kicking off the last day of the election in Tampa, Florida, John McCain was welcomed by a roughly 1,000 voters. Compare that to the 15,000 people that President Bush drew to a rally in Tampa on the eve of the 2004 election. "What's up with that?" wrote Adam Smith at the St. Petersburg Times.
Even Fox News had a bit of difficulty spinning the whole thing. Carl Cameron, who is following the Senator at every stop on Monday, said the crowd size was likely "a little bit disturbing" for the McCain campaign. He added that organizers had set up the venue predicting ten times the number of attendees.
"Last night in Miami Sen. McCain arrived for a midnight rally and had more than 10,000 people in Miami. Today in Tampa, for a morning event, it's a small crowd, only about 1,000. And I can tell you is it looks like it was set up with the perimeter and all for about 10 times this crowd. In addition, you'll note that there are no actual McCain signs here. This is one of the events that is put on, ostensibly paid for by the Republican Party."
Later in his segment, Cameron tried to explain the empty venue as a byproduct of volunteers being dispatched for get-out-the-vote activities. But he couldn't hide the fact that the Tampa kick-off wasn't the best start for a long day.
"They believe that their 72-hour get-out-the-vote exercise will make the difference," he said. "That is one of the reasons why the size of this crowd is a little bit disturbing for the McCain campaign."
UPDATE: Off the Bus has some other good reporting on the small crowds at McCain events.
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