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Look in later today for our On the Road piece from Wilmington, North Carolina. We’re a bit ahead of our coverage, which occasionally happens out here with the long distances, input, output and timing demands. Tonight we’ll be at the Obama-Clinton rally in Kissimmee, Florida, and we’re breaking in from Miami, where John McCain just concluded his “Joe the Plumber” rally at Everglades Lumber.

After the rally, we witnessed a near-street riot involving the exiting McCain crowd and two Cuban-American Obama supporters. Tony Garcia, 63, and Raul Sorando, 31, were suddenly surrounded by an angry mob. There is a moment in a crowd when something goes from mere yelling to a feeling of danger, and that’s what we witnessed. As photographers and police raced to the scene, the crowd elevated from stable to fast-moving scrum, and the two men were surrounded on all sides as we raced to the circle.

The event maybe lasted a minute, two at the most, before police competently managed to hustle the two away from the scene and out of the danger zone. Only FiveThirtyEight tracked the two men down for comment, a quarter mile down the street.

“People were screaming ‘Terrorist!’ ‘Communist!’ ‘Socialist!'” Sorando said when we caught up with him. “I had a guy tell me he was gonna kill me.”

Asked what had precipitated the event, “We were just chanting ‘Obama!’ and holding our signs. That was it. And the crowd suddenly got crazy.”

Garcia told us that the man who originally had warned the two it was his property when they had first tried to attend the rally with Obama T-shirts was one of the agitators. Coming up just before the scene started getting out of hand, the man whispered in Garcia’s ear, “I’m gonna beat you up the next time I see you.” Garcia described him for us: “a big stocky man wearing a tweed jacket.” He used hand motions to emphasize this was a large guy. We went back to look for the gentleman twenty minutes after the incident but didn’t find him.

The two Obama supporters had attempted to attend the event with tickets printed from the McCain website. Both were clad in Obama T-shirts, Sorando in a blue “Obama ’08” shirt, and Garcia in a white “Obama-Biden” shirt. They were told that the event was being held on private property and that wearing the shirts or carrying the signs they would be asked to either remove the shirts or not attend.

For an hour during the rally, the two had stood across the street from the lumberyard on public property holding yard signs. Some drivers honked in support, and others honked in disapproval. When the rally ended and the crowd spilled out, the disturbance began.

Garcia had a message for his stocky, tweed-clad threatener. “You tell that guy he can find Tony Garcia down at the West Dade library every day from 7 to 7 helping people early vote. I’ll be there from 1 to 5 on Saturday and Sunday. You tell him if he wants to kick my ass that’s where he can find me. Come beat me up.”

Not thirty seconds later, John McCain drove by in his SUV and waved at Garcia on the sidewalk, who was happily waving his Obama sign.

Source: Five Thirty Eight

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With three weeks to go in the election, the current, most influential narrative is that the crowds at John McCain events have become so vitriolic as to represent an electoral liability.

In response, the McCain camp has spent several days defending itself from what the Senator deemed the “fringe” elements of his rallies. On CNN this Monday, McCain claimed that Obama crowds had called him a terrorist as well.

The frame, however, seems difficult for McCain to move, in part because it is backed by documentary evidence. On Tuesday, Brave New Films and Color of Change (one of the nation’s most influential Black American political organizations) put out a veritable greatest (really, worst) hits of the past week in McCain-Palin rallies.

The video leaves out the Senator’s town hall last Friday, where he corrected two audience members who expressed concerns about Obama. But the spot is effective in reinforcing the notion that McCain-Palin is the ticket of at best, fear and at worse, xenophobia and bigotry.

Color for Change accompanied the release by sending members an open letter to McCain; part of which reads:

    “In the last few weeks, Senator McCain and Governor Palin, rhetoric at your campaign events has taken an increasingly dangerous tone that seems to ignore the precarious state of our progress when it comes to race and ethnicity…
    … For the most part, you have stood by in silence. In addition, you have also repeatedly made statements that somehow connect Senator Obama with terrorism; surrogates of yours have emphasized his middle name. This is problematic and dangerous, and I believe helps create the conditions that have given rise to these incidents of violent rhetoric from some of your supporters.”

Source: HP

Exactly what I thought – once unleashed McCain will have difficulty controlling the mob mentality he created – and there is some evidence that members of the McCain camp are still stirring up the supporters.

Could this be the new face of America? That would be without a doubt a change – for the worst.

The Times Tribune, covering the crowd awaiting Sarah Palin in Scranton, reports:

Chris Hackett addressed the increasingly feisty crowd as they await the arrival of Gov. Palin.

    Each time the Republican candidate for the seat in the 10th Congressional District mentioned Barack Obama, the crowd booed loudly.One man screamed “kill him!”Supporters have been noted shouting “kill him,” “terrorist,” “off with his head” and other equally incendiary terms about Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Others have directly suggested Mr. Obama is a Muslim, which he is not, or a traitor. Some comments even drew rebuke from Republican presidential nominee John McCain.Other than the lone man, there were no other such outbursts.

ALSO: A liberal blog has an interview with the Minnesota woman, Gayle Quinnell, who asked McCain if Obama is an Arab.

Source: Politico