The Tennessean has an article up about Fred Thompson and his old red pickup truck. I wasn’t in Tennessee during the ’94 or ’96 Senate campaign, so I missed it, but apparently, it was all an extension of Fred’s acting.
Ingram recalls a meeting with Thompson at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Cookeville: “He wasn’t too happy with traditional campaigning. The conversation went something like this: I said, ‘What would you do if you could do what you want to do?’ He said, ‘I’d go to my dad’s used car lot (in Lawrenceburg) and get a truck and drive it across the state.’ I said, ‘Do it.’ People thought he was crazy. It worked because it wasn’t an unnatural or unreal thing for him to do.”
Ingram sprinkled on some of his marketing pixie dust to make it work. They decided it had to be a red truck because that would be photogenic: “Red made sense. We didn’t want anything too flashy, so used made sense. We wanted something that was going to be roomy because there were going to be people with him from time to time, so we got a stretch cab” …
… And so it was that on Aug. 5, 1994, Senate candidate Fred Thompson parked his black Lincoln Continental and started driving a used 1990 cherry-red, extended cab Chevy pickup truck with four on the floor and almost 200,000 miles on it. The campaign leased it for $500 a month.
With a package of Red Man chewing tobacco on the seat and country music blaring, Thompson drove from Mountain City to Memphis and back again.
He changed his sophisticated, educated lawyerly look into a good ole boy. He packed 6 feet, 6 inches into jeans, cowboy boots and a work shirt and gave it a “how y’all?” at each stop. He sometimes delivered his “throw the bums out” stump speech from atop the truck bed.
Where’s the Republican outrage on this one? Hillary Clinton tries to adopt a Southern Dialect, and she gets attacked, Fred dumbs it down for the plebes…but I haven’t heard anything yet.
Granted, most politicians pretend they are someone they are not, but I’ve heard quite a few people talking up Fred as this uber-genuine guy…doesn’t appear that way at all. Seems like another Lawyer, who happened to be an actor too, who decided to jump into politics.
Of course, I know the “Fred-Heads” (a term I’ve heard on Phil Valentine) will say I’m just “scared” of the prospect of Fred Thompson, but personally I’m not convinced his shtick will play across the nation. To Tennesseans and Conservative elites, Fred Thompson has enormous name appeal, but I’m not sure that it travels across the Nation. I think to many he will be a ‘B’ movie actor who served some time in the Senate, and wants to be President. I’m not saying he’s not qualified, as I don’t think anyone is more “qualified” to be President than the next person…even Bush 2004, who had served as President for four years, wasn’t more qualified than Kerry. However, I’m just not sure he’s the diamond in the rough that Conservatives, disillusioned with their current choices, seem to think he is.