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Anger Is Crowd's Overarching Emotion at McCain Rally

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By Michael D. Shear and Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 10, 2008

WAUKESHA, Wis., Oct. 9 -- There were shouts of "Nobama" and "Socialist" at the mention of the Democratic presidential nominee. There were boos, middle fingers turned up and thumbs turned down as a media caravan moved through the crowd Thursday for a midday town hall gathering featuring John McCain and Sarah Palin.

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"It is absolutely vital that you take it to Obama, that you hit him where it hits, there's a soft spot," said James T. Harris, a local radio talk show host, who urged the Republican nominee to use Barack Obama's controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., and others against him.

"We have the good Reverend Wright. We have [the Rev. Michael L.] Pfleger. We have all of these shady characters that have surrounded him," Harris bellowed. "We have corruption here in Wisconsin and voting across the nation. I am begging you, sir. I am begging you. Take it to him."

The crowd of thousands roared its approval.

In recent days, a campaign that embraced the mantra of "Country First" but is flagging in the polls and scrambling for a way to close the gap as the nation's economy slides into shambles has found itself at the center of an outpouring of raw emotion rare in a presidential race.

"There's 26 days and people are looking at the very serious possibility that there's a chance that Obama might get in, and they don't like that," said Ian Eltrich, 28, as he filed out of the crowded sports complex.

"I'm mad! I'm really mad!" another man said, taking the microphone and refusing to surrender it easily, even when McCain tried to agree with him.

"I'm not done. Lemme finish, please," he said after a standing ovation. "When you have Obama, [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and the rest of the hooligans up there going to run the country, we have to have our head examined.

"It's time that you two represent the rest of us. So go get 'em."

The crowd burst into loud chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!"

Standing at the center of the crowd, McCain and Palin drew on the crowd's energy as they repeatedly trained their fire on Obama.


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