Robert Kuntz drove up from Miami Beach to Centre College in hopes of stirring up a little trouble with his anti-Obama, pro-Israel rants and raves.
“I was here to get everyone enraged, but nobody even yelled at me,” Kuntz said Thursday afternoon after his turn at the microphone at Speaker’s Park, the area set up at Centre’s practice football field for anyone and everyone to speak their piece during the vice presidential debate.
Nobody shouted down Kuntz, who represents Shalom International, because hardly anyone was there. The few folding chairs set up in front of the stage stayed mostly empty all afternoon. There were more Kentucky State Troopers on hand to keep the peace than active listeners for most speakers.
“It’s been pretty much low-key like this all day,” said Trooper C.S. Dixon. “There just hasn’t been much going on.”
Representatives of the 20 or so groups who signed up to spread their messages suspected that it was by design that the crowd was so thin. The location set up for free speech, off of Russell Street on the back side of the campus, was so far removed from the heart of debate activities it almost required a map and hiking boots to get there.
“It’s more than a mile back to the debate festival,” Lee Ann Paynter of Danville, a member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, which hoped to reach a much bigger audience with its messages of restoring voting rights for felons and stopping mountain top coal mining. “It’s less than ideal that we’re way out here. We’d like to be closer to the action, but I guess the Secret Service wouldn’t allow it. They didn’t want to get people too riled up, so they put us back here.”
Another Danville resident, Dave Wilson, manned a table handing out paraphernalia for the Libertarian Party and its slate of candidates, including presidential hopeful Gary Johnson. It was a slow day.
“I¿haven’t seen too much action,” Wilson said. “I don’t see too many organizations that look like trouble makers, so I don’t see why we couldn’t share the main area.”
Even those who came to Speaker’s Park with nothing more rabble-rousing in mind than selling hot dogs and burgers to raise money for their marching bands were disappointed. Both Danville and Boyle County high schools had set up concession booths on the perimeter, and business was hardly booming.
John Ferguson, co-president of the DHS band boosters, said the group was hoping to raise money to buy a box truck to haul equipment to and from competitions. When asked how much of that truck could be purchased from Thursday’s profit, Ferguson said, “Maybe a tire.”