John McCain greets a group of bikers at the annual Sturgis Rally at Buffalo Chip campground in South Dakota, as Cindy McCain and Sen. John Thune look on. (Photo credit: Peter Hamby/CNN)
STURGIS, South Dakota (CNN) – Standing on the main stage at a world famous motorcycle rally in rural South Dakota on Monday, John McCain looked out on a sea of denim-wearing bikers and told them he enjoyed their company much more than that of the 200,000 Germans who turned out to see Barack Obama last month.
“As you may know,” he told the tens of thousands gathered at the 68th annual Sturgis Rally at Buffalo Chip campground, “not long ago, a couple of hundred thousand Berliners made a lot of noise for my opponent. I’ll take the roar of fifty thousand Harleys any day.”
Bikers in the crowd, who had arrived from around the country to partake in the massive outdoor party, revved their engines numerous times in support of the presumptive GOP nominee. McCain said it was music to his ears.
“This is my first time here,” he said, “but I recognize that sound. It’s the sound of freedom.”
If McCain seemed more energized than usual, it might have been because the rally was one the campaign’s most colorful (and noisy) events in recent months. He even purchased four commemorative t-shirts.
As the senator made his way through a sea of motorcycle enthusiasts, shaking hands with the many veterans in attendance and accompanied by his wife Cindy and Sen. John Thune, he was surrounded by scores of beer drinking men and scantily clad women, many of whom were as thrilled to see the war hero candidate as they were to watch Kid Rock perform later in the evening.
If there were any Obama supporters to be found in the vast Buffalo Chip campground, they kept quiet.
Indeed, McCain felt so comfortable at the event that he even volunteered his wife for the rally’s traditional beauty pageant, an infamously debauched event that’s been known to feature topless women.
“I encouraged Cindy to compete,” McCain said to cheers. “I told her with a little luck she could be the only woman ever to serve as first lady and Miss Buffalo Chip.”