What started out as an idea on Facebook mushroomed into a full scale political rally on Saturday as more than 3,000 people braved frigid temps to attend a 'Celebrate Walker' rally in support of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
The event was not organized by state or local Republican Parties nor by any established Tea Party group. It began as a way to say thank you to Walker, who may be facing a recall election later this year. As more and more speakers lined up to participate, including the Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and several declared candidates for US Senate, interest in the event grew.
Despite media reports that 'hundreds' attended the rally, organizers put attendance at more than 3,000.
Quite an impressive feat for an ad hoc group who quickly pulled together the event on a shoestring budget. They say in their wildest dreams they imagined a crowd perhaps a third of that size would attend. It was the first pro-Walker political rally since recall organizers turned in petitions on Tuesday.
"A coalition of people who want more government money are going to try to drive him out," said State Senator Glenn Grothman of Walker, who was not scheduled to attend the event.
In total, more than a dozen speakers took to the stage. Organizers held a bake sale in the back of the crowd to help defer costs. Several roamed the crowd selling pro Walker yard signs and bumper stickers.
Walker's wife Tonette made a surprise appearance as well.
"We're proud that you're all here and ready to step up for us," she said. "I had a conversation with Scott and he asked me to say a few things to you."
"He wanted me to remind you that the reforms are working," she said.
At this point the crowd began chant, "Yes they are! Yes they are!"
"We know they're working because our property taxes are lower," Tonette Walker continued. "We know they are working because the schools are saving money. We know they are working because the work climate is better now than a year ago."
For someone not known as a proficient public speaker, Wisconsin's First Lady had the crowd fired up.
"This is not about anger. If we make it about anger we are feeding into the Democrats hands," she said. "We're here to make a Wisconsin that is better for my children and their children; He wants you to understand it's not about anger."
We'll report more on this later, but don't let any national wire service reports of anemic attendance fool you. It was a solid showing.
"The line is drawn here. If we let Scott Walker go down our country is going down," Sen. Grothman said.