Nick Coleman: Gospel, crosses and boos on cue

Nick Coleman

Star Tribune

August 20, 2004

A guy in combat gear and Kevlar helmet, machine gun at the ready, stopped me outside the Xcel Energy Center.

“Hey,” he said. “How you doing?”

It was just one of my buddies on the St. Paul Police Department, dressed for combat and carrying a 9-millimeter MP5. It was a beautiful day in St. Paul, the president of the United States was on his way to town, the SWAT team and the protesters were out, and I was on my way in.

My daughter put me down for a ticket to attend Wednesday’s rally for President Bush, probably because she’s always wondered what her old man would look like spread-eagled against a wall. But I was glad to join her. Lots of people don’t feel welcome at political rallies these days, so this was a chance to see what’s going on.

After three hours of speeches and nothing to eat or drink, I can say this: If you aren’t dying to get into a political rally, you will be to get out of one.

We passed through the metal detectors and by the tables where folks were told to leave their contraband — umbrellas, water bottles and other items not allowed inside, including books. Here’s an impromptu look at a Republican reading list: “The Ultimate Bible Fun Book” was one of the inspirational titles left behind, along with “Shrines to Our Lady Around the World.”

Religious conviction was a big part of the program, from the invocation in which the minister thanked God for touching the heart of George W. Bush (“a man we believe You’ve established”) to the Pledge of Allegiance, during which people shouted out the words “under God” in order to vocalize their faith.

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