In the wake of Scott Brown's landscape changing win in Massachusetts, the clear message to Republicans is "keep on truckin'." As the Boston Globe reports, the green GMC Canyon truck - what the paper deemed Brown's "regular-guy-mobile" featured so prominently in his campaign - is experiencing "a surge of interest" at Bay State dealerships. All of which suggests that with his pickup truck Scott Brown like Fred Thompson before him has perfected the Republican art of ersatz authenticity.
"My name is Scott Brown and I'm running for the United States Senate. This is my truck. I put a lot of miles on it during this campaign.
Wherever I go people tell me they're concerned about the path our country is on. Spending is out of control. Government keeps getting bigger and bigger. It's time for a new direction.
"I love this old truck. It's brought me closer to the people of this state. And I want to speak for them as their next United States Senator."
If that road to office sounds familiar, it should. After all, actor and long-time lobbyist Fred Thompson used it to drive his leased red pickup into the Senate in 1994.
As the New Republic recalled in 2007 while musing about a potential Thompson run for the White House:
By the time Fred Thompson decides whether or not to join the presidential fray, you will have heard the story of his red pickup truck at least a dozen times. The truck in question is a 1990 Chevy, which the famed statesman-thespian rented during his maiden Senate campaign in 1994. The idea was that Thompson would dress up in blue jeans and shabby boots and drive himself to campaign events around Tennessee. Upon arriving, he'd mount the bed of the truck and launch into a homespun riff on the virtues of citizen-legislators and the perils of Washington insider-ism. For good measure, he'd refer to himself as "Ol' Fred" and the Chevy as "this ol' baby."
There was no real reason to think the tactic would work. Thompson's own campaign manager dismissed it as "gimmicky and hokey." Thompson, after all, had spent the previous two decades as a well-paid Washington lobbyist and sometime screen actor. He was about as close to being a salt-of-the-earth Southerner as Truman Capote, and it was a stretch to think average Tennesseans wouldn't pick up on the dissonance. Yet the gambit proved wildly successful. Thompson was down big to Democrat Jim Cooper when he initialed his car-rental agreement. He went on to win the race with more than 60 percent of the vote.
In 1996, the Washington Monthly's Michelle Cottle ("Another Beltway Bubba?") concluded that "with his pickup truck, his blue jeans, and his deep, friendly drawl, Thompson has cultivated the perfect political image for today's anti-Washington climate."