Newt speaks for about eighteen minutes, then zooms off to his next stop, somewhere else in this sprawling state. The park clears out in a few minutes, people grabbing their lawn chairs, retreating to their respective corners. As it turns out, there was relatively little coverage of the rally, and that coverage tended to focus on the unexpectedly large crowd—one of the largest gatherings in Cambier Park history. But I read little that captures the most memorable elements of what I saw in that crowd: hustling, boredom, ill-informed arguments, several near-fistfights, and one woman from Europe, surveying the scene, cheerfully oblivious to the barrage of insults being leveled from the dais against her home continent. “We’re from Denmark. We are coming here today to see what’s going on,” she says.

“American politics?”


Justin Peters is editor-at-large of the Columbia Journalism Review.