August 5th, 2008
07:30 AM ET
13 years ago

McCain makes the rounds at biker rally


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.

Watch: McCain addresses the crowd at Sturgis

“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.

Watch: McCain greets veterans, bikers at Sturgis

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.”

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (327 Responses)
  1. Steve, Madison WI

    Same old empty words from Repubs – well "liberty", "freedom", "patriot" don't pay my bills, fill my gas tank or keep me safe. Yet, enough folk fall for it every time – WAKE UP AMERICA and ask yourself, did Bush do anything to make you're life better? The rich got richer, we embarked on colonialism (despite Bush's claims he wouldn't), he divided us, not united us ("uniter not divider" campaign pledge). Unless you are rich, the Repubs play you for a fool and you bite every time!

    August 5, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  2. Omar C. Baez

    mmmmm lets see how to improve foreign relations 101

    1.Insult Berliners to get in good with the "Biker Crowd"
    2.Make songs about bombing Iran
    3.Make jokes how about we can kill Iranians with Cigarettes
    4.Continue to occupy Iraq

    Yep this guy is "fit" to be president.

    If this country votes for McCain we are truly a nation of idiots and deserve whatever we get.

    He's having senior moments about 2 years down the road when the pressure is really on.

    Kerry in that other story was right, he is dangerous. He has not been in a high pressure situation since being a POW and look how that damaged him.

    No media outlet is asking this question. With his POW experience and the fact that they broke him and he signed war crimes papers against the north vietnamese does that disqualify him from the presidency.

    My god the man could snap in office. Is that what we want?!!

    August 5, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  3. Tammy - KCMO

    Looks like a wannabe biker to me. probably a stockholder in disguise on vacation.

    August 5, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  4. Erin in Edmonds WA

    I'm not sure it was a crowd of people that were there for John McCain. Buffalo Chips attract flies–maybe that was the crowd his likely failing eyes were seeing.

    Big Yawn, of course he would want stepford Cindy to show her goods in a beauty contest. He is well acquainted with exploitation and cheap dirt tricks that smack of intolerance.

    Yesterday was Obama's birthday, and he was hard at work campaigning–and he also campaigns on weekends. John McCain takes a weekend off and then goes to a Buffalo Chip thingee with a bunch of bikers. If there were any "Hell's Angels" there, note to McCain, they are listed as a domestic terrorist organization.

    August 5, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  5. bobby

    By some of the remarks posted, I would gather that most of you have never been to Sturgis, or any other extremely large biker gathering. Politically, bikers are split between the opponents just as the American People are.

    While you may think that Sturgis and other events are some low life gatherings, you are very incorrect. They are a mix of people and many of them would be very interested in hearing what McCain has to say. I am not a supporter of his, but I definitely would have listened to him speaking. And no, bikers would not have spit on him as one of you said. He would be treated the same as everyone else there.

    You have to remember how much money is floating around at these events. Many many people will spend the 2300$ max donation on bike parts, gear, and some good old fashion frivolity. The people that go to these events have money. The bikes alone cost more than most peoples cars. If McCain can tap into that financial resource, he would be a fool not to.

    August 5, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  6. Anonymous

    "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."

    And there's where McCain stands on women's issues. I wonder if he was so comfortable he dropped a C-bomb on Cindy again.

    August 5, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  7. Phil in KC

    Pandering to a demographic that's pretty much his to begin with.

    August 5, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. mol

    Amy in Texas: I hope you enjoy your Fox News- and while you're at it, tune into Rush Limbaugh in the morning. You'll be the most unbiased, intellectual citizen concerning politics in the entire United States!
    Speaking of fair, CNN also closed the comments early on the Mitt Romney article yesterday. Yes, the one where he stated that Obama's ad was "dishonest" and McCain's immature and mocking ad was merely "humorous". I would like to know why he's kissing McCain's but so much lately. He makes me want to vomit.

    August 5, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. Super D

    It's so funny, if that WIMP, Obama showed up at this. He would get his butt kicked! They would throw him outa there with tire tracks on his back!

    August 5, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  10. Patrick Henry, Fort Myers

    Too bad old Pelican Face wasn't at the rally.
    He may have seen there are a lot of people who do not believe that McCain is dangerous. Especially when you ask them if they want to see the U.S. moving the towards same failed model of socialism some european states are trying now to extricate themselves from!

    August 5, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  11. Tyler in Raleigh

    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.

    YES CLINTON SUPPORTERS>>> VOTE FOR MCCAIN. Nothing will raise up women's rights as much as this guy. He sure does show a lot of respect for women and minorities with his jokes.

    August 5, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  12. McCain is an idiot

    In 2007, McCain missed all 11 energy-related Senate votes considered key by the League of Conservation Voters, including votes related to automobile fuel economy, offshore Virginia drilling, refinery construction, renewable electricity mandates, energy efficiency, liquefied coal and support for biofuels. The absences prompted the League to give McCain a "zero" rating for the year-–WOW and he has the nerve to demand congress to "get back to work".....this man is unbelievable.

    August 5, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  13. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    McCain = Bush 3. His economic and foreign policy will be identical to Bush's. Time to drive THAT bike over a cliff!

    August 5, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  14. Obama supporter: Bipartisan Intelligence in Gov't

    How can women vote for this sexist candidate? Against women's issues of equal pay, freedom of choice and demeans his wife for votes.

    August 5, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  15. monica, rochester ny

    So he's proud to offer up his wife for a topless "debauchery" style beauty pageant. Would that then become a criterion for First Lady experience? Mccain has no respect for women. Cheating on his first wife with Cindy when first became disabled, calling his next wife the terrible "c" word. Voting against any bill that supports women's rights. Misogynist.

    August 5, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  16. Travis In Colorado

    Why is everyone so against McCain talking to and hanging out with bikers? You people seem to forget that these people are tax paying AMERICANS! These people are hard working, tax paying citizens of this country. These are the people that will help decide the next president, not Europeans! Thank you Senator McCain, thank you bikers, thank you AMERICANS! God Bless you all!

    August 5, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  17. Jay

    Now McCain loves big crowd? was he just jealous of Obama, Hay ! McCain do you see how good it feels to have a big crowd?

    August 5, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  18. PS from Tennessee

    Is McShame going to climb onto his Power Scooter and let the parade?

    August 5, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  19. LT for Obama


    I hate to burst your bubble, but McCain's visit was planned after this rally was organized so, yes, they actually were there to see Kid Rock.

    As for Berlin, that band was there to entertain the Obama croud who were wearing his shirts and carrying his banners. This croud was gathered to actually hear Obama. Try actually getting your facts straight before you post next time.

    August 5, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  20. LEN


    August 5, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  21. Reg

    I live in Texas and I'm ALL FOR OBAMA!!!!

    August 5, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  22. Yeah, vote for him b/c the Dems are sexist...

    How is no one paying attention to the fact that he offered his wife up for what is described as a "topless beauty pageant".

    This is the candidate from the "family values party". And this is the candidate that angry Democratic women tell me they will vote for because the Democrats are supposedly sexist.

    Excuse me?????

    August 5, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  23. What if?

    To…..TX for Obama August 5th, 2008 10:50 am ET......You are so right, but please don‘t be surprised by these voters……...These states you listed in the South that are voting for McCain are just what the republican believe them to be......voters that they didn't need to waste money on with advertising and campaigning, they already know that they can take them for granted.

    Here in the South...THE RACE CARD IS PLAYED… 24/7. If McCain opponent was a Caucasian man (just being honest from the South) with the same political agenda as Obama, we would see a bigger lead in the polls for our democratic nominee. Just as the republicans believe, no matter what they do that is wrong, negative and down right wrong for the survival of 98% of the American people, some of here in the South will hold to our prejudice outlook. Instead of considering that we need a change, eight years and this is the out come, more have became poorer, but those in the present administration for the last eight years have became twice millionaires year after year. It sad to say but they would rather lose their homes, starve, no health care and have to walk just to elect another Bush into office.

    Obama 08

    August 5, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  24. McLame


    August 5, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |

    Way to go Big John

    August 5, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14