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McCain's Seven-State Sprint: Tampa, Fla.

Maybe McCain really SHOULD have all his rallies at midnight.

When the Straight Talk Express headed from the airport toward 65,000-seat Raymond James Stadium, it looked to be an audacious move. But the stadium was closed and empty. McCain's rally was in a field across the street, where there were all of 1,100 people awaiting the candidate, a disastrous showing for an election-eve event in this big, Republican town. A vast, fenced off overflow area went unoccupied.

But the candidate pressed ahead, no doubt aware that the densely packed crowd would still look good on TV. "Thank you all for beIng here," he said. "With this kind of enthusiasm, this kind of intensity, we will win Florida!"

He went on with his usual stump speech, including the part featuring his ongoing effort to call Obama the "redistributionist in chief." Yesterday it came out as "redistrict." In Tampa, he called Obama the "redistribution in [pause] ist in chief."

And he closed with his now-standard never-surrender cry: "I'm an American and I choose to fight. Don't give up hope, be strong, have courage, and fight. Fight for a new direction for our country, for what's right for America. Fight to clean up the mess of corruption, infighting, selfishness in Washington, fight to get our economy out of the ditch and back in the lead, fight for the ideals and character of a free people. Fight for our children's future, fight for justice and opportunity for all. Stand up. Stand up to defend our country from its enemies. Sand up, stand up stand up and fight! America is worth fighting for. Nothing is inevitable here. We never give up. We never quit, we never hide from history. We make history. Now let's go win this election and get this country moving again."

Usually, the long rallying cry is drowned out by the roar of the crowd. In Tampa, McCain did not have this problem.

By Dana Milbank  | November 3, 2008; 9:53 AM ET
 
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