TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

State News

October 11, 2012

Party atmosphere all around in Danville

CORBIN —  

By RONNIE ELLIS /  CNHI News Service

DANVILLE, Ky. – Thursday night’s debate between Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Joe Biden may be a partisan party versus party fight.

But across the way from the debate hall, it’s just one big party.

Center College students, Danville residents, out-of-towners - even students from mainland China - were all smiles and in a party mood.

“This is – uh – great! Lot of fun, the way we ought to do this,” said Disi Lu, 18, a Centre freshman from China.

She and three other students from China – they met at Centre not in China – were merrily having their photographs taken with Kentucky State Troopers, festivalgoers dressed as Abe Lincoln and George Washington, even reporters and photographers.

Lu said she likes the way the United States chooses its leaders. Asked to contrast that with her homeland, she said, “Both are good,” raising her voice to overcome the music booming from the concert stage by “Earthman Lanny Smith.”

The event was sponsored by AARP, which offered patrons a chance to be photographed with life-sized cut-outs of Mitt Romney or Barack Obama – or between them with both.

Mary Maggard, an AARP volunteer from Lexington, said by noon about one-third of those posing had chosen Obama, one-third Romney “and about one-third are in-between.”

That might surprise in a conservative state like Kentucky which increasingly votes Republican in national elections, a state already conceded by the Obama campaign. But at the festival, Obama supporters, mostly young students, weren’t timid.

“I’m the biggest socialist you’ll ever meet,” said Miranda Willis, 19, of Campbellsville with a smile after she and two friends posed with Obama’s cut-out. “I believe in all of Obama’s programs and policies.”

Willis is especially displeased with a comment made by Romney in an interview that students who can’t afford college should “borrow the money from their parents.”

“That just shows how incredibly out of touch he is with the lives of most people,” said Willis who is a government and sociology major at Centre. “Tuition at Centre is $42,000 a year and my parents are middle class people and simply don’t have that kind of money. I’ll be $80,000 in debt when I graduate and I just don’t think that’s fair.”

Nearby Brittany Neal, 19, a Centre sophomore from Somerset, agreed and waved an Obama sign, perhaps a bit surprising for someone from Somerset in Pulaski County right in the middle of Kentucky’s conservative Republican region.

“Mine is the one family in Somerset that likes Obama,” Neal said smiling. “My family are all Democrats and we’re kind of proud of it.”

If there were more Obama supporters visible at the festival, the reverse was true at a television set of MSNBC where the Andrea Mitchell show was broadcasting.

A few brave Obama supporters were trying to compete with more numerous Romney supporters who held up Romney/Ryan signs for the television cameras. The Obama supporters were outnumbered 3-to-1 or 4-to-1.

One, a Centre professor, Anne Lubbers, was so dismayed by the prevalence of Romney supporters with matching signs, she hastily constructed her own on cardboard which read: “Obama Biden care about ALL of us!”

A few feet away, Alden Homirch, a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity from Stone Mountain, Ga., sat on a fraternity brother’s shoulders and held high aloft the portrait of Centre grad and former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Fred Vinson, known around campus as “Dead Fred.” The Phi Delts take the portrait to all campus events and he was to have prime balcony seat at the actual debate Thursday evening.

Asked who “Dead Fred” supports in the current election, Homirch said, “He’s bi-partisan, I think.”

Back at the festival it was a more festive atmosphere at Melton’s Great American Deli vendor’s tent. Owner Gina Melton, a Barren County native who now lives in Danville, said she and her family prepared 2,600 hot dogs and buns for the event; cotton candy for 1,000 people, nachos with cheese and all sorts of hot and cold drinks.

Next door, Papa John’s was selling Paul Ryan Pepperoni and Joe Biden Beef pizzas. AARP volunteers manned booths with spinning wheels and offering prizes like small megaphones, t-shirts and caps.

Next door was a tent where patrons were snapping up official Centre debate t-shirts, sweatshirts, “Thrill in the ‘Ville” debate posters and caps.

Concert-goers sat on the rolling lawn in chairs, on blankets and just walked around. Giant screens beside the musical stage were to broadcast the actual debate where thousands on hand were expected to watch. The event was to conclude with a concert by the Marshall Tucker Band.

It may be deadly serious for the two presidential campaigns, but it was a part for all those on hand at the festival.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort <http://www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort> .

1
Text Only
State News
  • Grimes comes out firing on McConnell

    Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s Democratic Secretary of State who is challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in this fall’s elections, went after the five-term incumbent in a speech here to a convention of local county officials.

    July 11, 2014

  • Conway, Comer address judge-execs

    It might have been a preview of next year’s Kentucky governor’s election — but county officials here for a convention probably didn’t expect one likely candidate to endorse a potential opponent.

    July 11, 2014

  • McConnell, Grimes parade cases

    Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes know a good place to look for votes when they see it.

    July 7, 2014

  • McConnell, Grimes disagree on contraception case

    Kentucky’s Republican congressman praised Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that corporations may opt out of a requirement to provide employees contraceptive coverage through insurance plans.

    July 1, 2014

  • Beshear sings praises of Affordable Care Act

    Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear told a Washington conference Tuesday that Kentucky’s embrace of the Affordable Care Act has been “life-changing” for thousands of Kentucky enrollees and “transformative” for Kentucky.

    June 18, 2014

  • Kentucky actually fares well under new EPA regs

    Kentucky politicians and the coal industry howled about the latest installment of greenhouse gas emission regulations issued last week by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

    June 16, 2014

  • New EPA C02 regs examined

    Given their complexity and potential impact in coal-dependent states like Kentucky, there’s considerable confusion about new carbon emission regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

    June 16, 2014

  • State budget officials predict ‘significant shortfall’

    With only 20 days left in the 2014 fiscal year, state budget officials announced Tuesday Kentucky faces an “inevitable” and “significant” revenue shortfall in both the General and Road Funds.

    June 11, 2014

  • Grimes ad blasts Obama for coal policies

    Mitch McConnell is no longer the only U.S. Senate candidate running against Democratic President Barack Obama.

    June 5, 2014

  • Legislative leaders blast carbon regs

    President Barack Obama’s efforts to rein in carbon emissions, blamed by science for changes in the climate, continues to draw harsh criticism from both political parties in Kentucky.

    June 5, 2014