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. Ron in NY

    McCain doesn't care for Berlin? Now we are talking Johnny. Who else could we live without...lets attack!
    Peace is for Wimps
    McCain in 08!

    August 5, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  2. Linda from Prescott AZ

    Nice waste of gas revvin those motors, not to mention the junque in the air.
    Senator McCain is a man who will say or do anything....just go away.

    August 5, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  3. Nancy, MD

    Miss Cindy Lou, all dressed in blue. She a zero, and not someone I want as a first lady. She always looks bored to tears and more interested in her hair than anything else. And she looks like she's afraid of McCain-what a moron.

    No barbies in the white house. We want a first lady with a brain.

    August 5, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  4. Florida John

    If NOBAMA would have attended, he would have offered FREE GAS and TATS for their vote.

    NOBAMA is a NOVELTY being used by the Left. How SAD!!

    August 5, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  5. McCain Cheney '08

    He was surrounded by scores of beer drinking men and scantily clad women?!?! Sounds like a day in the life of George Bush.

    August 5, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  6. Sandy Tx

    Andy- McCain will be President of the United States come January. Obama could be President of Germany.*****and You My Friend will be
    very Disappointed ........Headlines Barack Obama President of the United States......Andy JUMPED!!!! Details pending ******

    August 5, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  7. captain

    I think he's got the trailer park vote wrapped up.

    August 5, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  8. al




    August 5, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  9. No O in the midwest

    For those that don't understand Sturgis – It isn't filled with wild partying "bikers." A vast majority of the participants are professionals, i.e. doctors, lawyers, bankers. There are people of all ages there, including a lot of older Americans. Stop being so hypocritial and sterotypical. They come from all of the US but a huge portion comes from the Heartland.

    August 5, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  10. Tom

    I think it's funny CNN prints all the anti-McCain comments and NONE of the pro-McCain comments. Nice fair and just reporting, CNN. Can you say censorship?

    August 5, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  11. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Let's see,...
    .....Obama announces he's going to visit a specific place and thousands show up to see him!

    .....McCain finds an event that's drawing thousands, and he shows up to see them!

    August 5, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  12. A CANUCK

    WOW..........POPS IS COOOOOOOL !!!!!!!!!

    August 5, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  13. FL

    Are you serious, CNN? McCain encouraged his wife to compete in an infamous event of debauchery? I guess after McCain's use of sacrilegious advertising, we should not be surprised by your reporting.

    August 5, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  14. smile!!!!

    John Kerry hit it right: a danger to the country is mc c I would go a lttle further.....a disgrace.....

    The bikers were revving up their bikes so he would leave, they had enough of him

    The germans have taken note of his comment....better watch your mouth old dirt bag!

    August 5, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. Nora

    To : Amy in Texas

    Good reading. –

    August 5, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  16. Jerry---Illinois

    I think the guys at the Sturgis rally are more concerned about
    wet "T shirt "contests than John McCain!

    August 5, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  17. Richard Hennig

    The kind of things that go on at motorcycle rallies, especially this one, is not something I would celebrate as a vision of freedom from a nominee for the Presidency. Leave that to someone else. As a democrat, I wonder what his campaign committee was thinking. This is not a NASCAR event. Outside aspects of this rally give definition to the word sordid.

    August 5, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  18. NY State of mind

    August 5th, 2008 9:41 am ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Look at his wife thinking Yum, time to trade up!!

    August 5, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  19. Andrew Dzeguze

    Hey Andy,

    Obama had an opening act to keep folks entertained while waiting for his speech. That's a common practice in American politics, which you'd know if you were paying attention – both HRC and Obama used popular acts throughout their primaries, and there's a centuries old tradition of having some sort of entertainment entwined with political events. But its not like there was a street festival planned for that day and he just happened to show up to give a speech at it. The band, the beer, everything else in Berlin was there because Obama was going to be there – most of it the choice of individual German merchants trying to make a little cash off of this event.

    By comparison, folks (mainly grungy white guys and their women) go to Sturgis every year to show off their bikes, get drunk and party. Its not generally viewed as a highly politically active event – unless there's a national helmet law on the table. Its also a rally with a lot of openly racist, xenophobic, homophobic and misogynistic attendees (see Ms. Buffalo Chip competition, open display of Confederate and Neo Nazi paraphenalia, etc.) . Sturgis is to bikers what Burning Man is to liberal freaks. In short, no one went to Sturgis thinking John McCain would be there, and probably only a very few based their decision on the presence of Kid Rock. They went to Sturgis to go to freakin' Sturgis, and John McCain happened to show up to pander to them.

    See the difference? McCain goes to an event, Obama creates one.

    August 5, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  20. cj

    Does anyone know the definition of liberal? Liberal is being so open minded that your brain falls out. get it. Better look away from both big parties for " CHANGE". The ego maniac and the old man arent going to get us out of shiznit

    August 5, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  21. Mary G

    The revving of a Harley engine is a sound of freedom??? Yeah, I suppose you could say that – if your entire message is to put the word "freedom" out there just as many times as you possibly can on any given day. Well, not any given day – I think Tuesday through Thursday are reserved for "surge", and Friday is set aside for "patriotism".

    It doesn't always have to be about the 'sound' of freedom either. You can mix it up and talk about the 'smell' or the 'sight' of freedom too. How about this: "My friends, the smell of that apple pie reminds me of FREEDOM". Or, "My fellow Americans, you see that Mom over there, eating her slice of apple pie in the country she loves? When I see that, I see FREEDOM!". Just get those words out there. That's all that matters.

    August 5, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  22. Joe, Hell MI

    Must be a slow news cycle or the media understands that people can only take so many Obama puff pieces in a row.

    August 5, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  23. Cheryl Wilson

    I live in Chicago. The biker clubs here promote violence, murder, pornography and drug dealing. They are constantly being investigated by law enforcement. They have blown up buildings here in Chicago when they had their "biker wars." McCain and Cindy are really aboard the "low road express" if the are hanging out with bikers. And, what's with Cindy dressing like a biker "broad?" Is she one of them now?

    August 5, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  24. Upon Further Review

    Half the bikers there now are "midlife crisis wannbes"that pretend they have been riding since the sixties.Many are big company scumbags and draft dodging Republicans.But Cindy may have some old friends there and she probably sprung for the brew.

    August 5, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  25. NMB

    To Len in Washington:

    You're not alone – I've noticed that lately his wife is glued to his side. Must be because Joe and Lindsay need to tend to their day jobs in the Senate!

    Anyone who needs a constant caretaker/companion at their side is too old to be President!

    August 5, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
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