Making his rounds throughout our great state, the governor scheduled a trip to one of the local malls in Stockton on July 18, 2004.
Arrival time differed depending on which media you preferred. It varied from 12:45 (Lodi News Sentinal) to 1:00 (Stockton Record) to 1:30 (a Sacramento T.V. station). At 11:50, the crowd was two to three deep around the perimeter of the cordoned off eating area. By 12:30 another six or seven hundred were patiently standing sardine-style, sporting their cameras, kids and best deodorant.
Air conditioning didn't mean much about 1:15. We're still waiting, fanning ourselves, feeling sorry for anyone under 5'4" tall. They definitely weren't going to see much. It was time to crisis bond with your neighbor, smile at the little kids who were forced to tail along and stand oblivious to the import (a debatable term) of the moment.
I started talking to the guy by me, only to be rebuffed when I asked if he lived in Stockton. "Why do you want to get so personal?" This began an uncongenial exchange of it was "none of my business", you whites only stereotype us blacks, and other nonsense. He turned to the guy on his east side and continued blathering. So much for trying to be friendly.
Excruciatingly loud music droned from four speakers set up on each side of a makeshift stage as the Governor arrived. They blared his theme song, "We're Not Gonna Take it Anymore." Bass beats pounded your whole body. Electric emotions waved over the crowd as they chanted, "Arnold, Arnold." Just like in the movies, folks. Not too much unlike the returning Caesar scenes. (I knew Julius Caesar, and Arnold, you're no Julius Caesar)
This orchestrated stump took about 15 minutes to deliver. The admirers were really getting pumped and cued up as they yelled and gave the appropriate "NO" word at predetermined intervals. I couldn't really see much and had to hold my Nikon F3 above my head and guess at composition throughout. Thankfully I had my digital, but the shutter speed was so slow (even at 400 ASA) that most of my shots are blurred. But that's okay. I just wanted to get something to put on the website and then get out of that hot, sweaty, fire-breathing crowd. Quality wasn't much of an issue at the moment.
The man definitely has charisma, great elocution and a good dose of zeal. He'd make in Hollywood for sure as an action hero.