FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Neither a seven-mile-long traffic jam nor a 20-minute downpour could keep away the conservative faithful.
An estimated 35,000 people descended on this city of 87,000 yesterday to hear conservative radio and television talk-show host Rush Limbaugh speak at Dan's Bake Sale.
The fans arrived in cars, planes and tour buses from nearly every state to show their support of the "bake sale" Limbaugh has hyped on his national radio show for two months.
Although he spoke for about 10 minutes, his disciples weren't disappointed.
"We are the majority of thinkers in the country," Limbaugh said.
The crowd exploded with approval and cheered wildly after every phrase.
"Stick to your principles, folks. They may fear you for that, but that's when you'll make your point," Limbaugh said.
As he arrived in the city's downtown about midday, fans were drenched by a heavy rain. But they refused to move and the talk-show host stepped on stage 20-minutes later.
"I'm sorry I kept you waiting," said Limbaugh. "But my barber was late."
Joining Limbaugh was Dan Kay, the 24-year-old former flea-market employee who inspired the event.
The gathering grew out of Kay's desire for a subscription to a newsletter put out by Limbaugh, who regularly bashes "feminazis," Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, "environmental wackos," homeless advocates and the liberal media in his nationwide syndicated talk show.
Kay called Limbaugh's show in March and said his wife wouldn't let him spend the $29.95 for the newsletter. Limbaugh suggested he hold a bake sale to raise the money. Kay cooked up a plan and the bake sale - later dubbed "Rushstock '93" - turned into a national event.
When Kay got on the stage, Limbaugh boomed: "Dan, do you have twenty-nine dollars and ninety-five cents?"
Kay handed him a check.
After being led off the stage after Limbaugh's remarks, Kay collapsed while being led through the crowd.
"It was emotion overload," Kay said. "I just sat sobbing for 10 minutes."
He rested for 30 minutes later and returned to a booth where he sold cookies and posters. He also charged $6 for fans to pose with him for pictures. Hundreds crowded the small stand for six hours to get a glimpse of Kay.
Thousands of others jammed four city blocks to buy things like sweat shirts with Clinton-bashing phrases from Politically Incorrect Inc., a firm from Plymouth, Mich. About 100 booths were set up to sell wares and baked goods.
Fans proudly wore "ditto-head" T-shirts. Ditto-head refers to a fan of Limbaugh's, ditto meaning they support praise Limbaugh has received. Others wore buttons, saying "politically incorrect and proud of it," or "Impeach Hillary."
Despite the size of the crowd, there were no incidents and no arrests.
"This is the most well-behaved crowd I've ever seen," said Bud Reed, a Fort Collins police officer.