FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Fred Thompson's old pickup truck sits behind his mother's house in a Nashville suburb, more than a dozen years after it was credited with helping him win his first bid for public office.
The red paint is faded and the tailgate hangs open, but supporters would like nothing more than to see the actor-politician leap into the bed to make stump speeches in a bid for the White House.
The Republican has not yet announced his candidacy — that's expected next month — and there's been no word from Thompson's campaign about whether there will be any role for an old, red pickup truck.
Early in the 1994 race, after struggling to connect with voters, Thompson decided to lease a used truck and drive around the state in what turned out to be a wildly successful effort to recast himself as a folksy man of the people.
His opponent, Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper, derided the truck as a cynical prop to deflect attention from Thompson's inside-the-Beltway status. But Thompson was able to shake off Cooper's suggestion that he was actually a "Gucci-wearing, Lincoln-driving, Perrier-drinking, Grey Poupon-spreading millionaire Washington special-interest lobbyist."
Thompson ended up capturing more than 60 percent of the vote.
Bill Lacy, hired this month to run Thompson's campaign, has a bit of personal history with the truck — he opposed the proposal to make the pickup a focal point when he was an adviser on the 1994 campaign.
"Fred had the good sense to ignore my advice," Lacy said in an opinion piece in The Knoxville News Sentinel in June.
Thompson so far has not appeared eager to climb back in. At his first public event in Nashville after forming a "testing the waters" committee in June, he shook off an attempt by supporters to have him address the crowd from the back of a brand new red pickup truck they had brought to the event.