Suddenly, the director, a retired Army colonel, veered briefly from his prepared remarks to speak about a recent trip to his native Louisiana.
Strickland described how untold numbers of people told him that they would vote for Arizona governor Jan Brewer for President of the United States. (Of course, that's Brewer in the photo).
Some in the audience chuckled loud enough for Director Strickland to hear.
Was he serious?
"It's true," Strickland said, "and I'm going to tell her when I see her."
In the back of the big room, a uniformed soldier (he's in the Arizona National Guard) turned to us with a mock-frightened expression on his face.
"Jan seems like an okay lady," the young soldier whispered, "but give me a break. I think I'd end up voting for what's his name."
"Yeah, him," he said with a wink.