It’s an election year and President Obama and Mitt Romney have hit the campaign trail hard. Chances are, they’ll be visiting a town near you and no matter what your political affiliation, attending a presidential rally and meeting the current or next president of the United States is pretty exciting. Let’s be honest, it’s pretty patriotic. If it’s your first time attending a presidential campaign rally following are a few tips I picked up during the 2008 presidential race.
How Do I Know When President Obama or Mitt Romney Will be Visiting My Town?
One of the most frustrating things during the 2008 presidential race was finding out when either Obama or McCain were visiting the area. I was willing to travel up to four hours yet in some cases, I wouldn’t learn about an event until either late the day prior or the next day. Social media accounts for each of the candidates didn’t include information about rallies. What was the deal?
Perhaps this is done for security purposes but for someone interested in hearing and possibly meeting the candidates, this wasn’t enough time to rearrange my work schedule.
That was four years ago. Today, it seems as though the Democratic and Republican parties understand the advancements and importance of technology and social media (see the end of this post). Visit the websites of each candidate (President Obama and Mitt Romney) and sign up to receive notifications of upcoming rallies.
Yeah, you’ll probably be flooded with campaign donation requests in the form of invites to celebrity-hosted dinners or a day with the candidate, but that’s easily fixed with the push of the delete button.
I Know When There Will Be a Presidential Campaign Rally, Now What?
Whether you learned about a rally through a news broadcast, newspaper article, email or through social media, follow the instructions for registering to attend the event. Most likely it’s a free rally yet many request an RSVP. But beware. As I learned in 2008, it didn’t matter that I had tickets for the rally featuring Gov. Sarah Palin in Fort Myers. I was turned away with a ticket in hand. Which means…
Arrive Early to the Rally!
Speaking from personal experience, if a rally begins at 2 p.m., do not show up at 1:30 p.m. expecting to get in. Arrive early. During the 2008 race I stood in line for four hours to hear Sarah Palin (yes, FOUR HOURS) in Tampa and many others were ahead of me. A couple of weeks later I waited three hours to hear Hillary Clinton campaign for Obama in Winter Park, Fla. I ended up with front-row positioning and met some really great people.
Dress Comfortably and for the Elements
If you’re planning on waiting in line for four hours or any duration, be sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes and clothing. If you’ll be standing out in the sun, be sure to bring along a hat and sunglasses along with sunscreen and possibly insect repellent. Also bring along water and snacks. If permissible, bring your own chair or blanket to sit on. Use common sense and dress for the elements.
Other Essentials to Bring Along to a Presidential Campaign Rally
Bring your questions! Become familiar with the issues, listen to the presidential candidates and if the opportunity presents itself, ask a question of President Obama or Mitt Romney.
Bring your respect. No matter what your political alliance, be courteous and respectful of the candidate and other attendees.
If it’s important to you, be sure your camera batteries are charged and bring along a Sharpie marker in case you’re close enough to ask for an autograph. Having something for the candidate to sign is useful, too. I had Gov. Palin sign the rally ticket.
Political button vendors are a plenty (you’ll see the same vendors selling different pins depending on the candidate speaking). Bring along your small bills if you want to pick up a piece of political memorabilia.
Know the Candidate’s Code
If you’re social media savvy, find out if the specific presidential rally has a designated Twitter or Instagram hashtag and use these in your Tweets and Instagram uploads. Your followers and others interested in the presidential campaigns will appreciate the information you’re sharing in real-time.
Below are some social media channels I found for Obama and Romney. These are great resources for candidate events, too.
Since I live in Florida, I included the Obama for America Florida account and couldn’t find a Florida-specific one for Romney. Do you have other social media channels for the candidates?
Twitter Hashtags: #Obama2012 and #Obama
Twitter.com/OFA_FL (Twitter: Obama for America – FL)
Additional social media channels for President Obama can be found on the bottom of the campaign website.
I wasn’t able to see Obama when he campaigned in 2008 (although I attended his inauguration!) and I have yet to see Romney. Since Florida is a swing state, I imagine the campaigning will be active. My goal in 2012 is to attend rallies for both candidates. Are you planning on attending any presidential rallies this year?