Driven to Run: Politicians Who Were Defined by Their Rides

How do you know when a politician's aspirations for higher office turn into a bona fide race? Just check the wheels. Republican Scott Brown, who is expected to be sworn in Thursday in the U.S. Senate, made his pick-up truck a centerpiece of his successful campaign in Massachusetts. But Brown's GMC isn't the only famous political ride. Here's a look back at what other politicians had under the hood.

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    Scott Brown's GMC Pick-Up

    Republican Scott Brown, the Massachusetts senator-elect, was so in love with his truck, he made it part of his campaign pitch: "I'm Scott Brown. I'm from Wrentham. I drive a truck."  Brown's vehicle of choice was a 2005 GMC Canyon pick-up truck, which he drove across Massachusetts in his successful bid for Senate.
    Reuters
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    Joe Biden's Amtrak

    During his more than three decades in the Senate, the Amtrak was Joe Biden's ride of choice for commuting between Washington, D.C., and Wilmington, Del. Nowadays, the vice president doesn't have to travel so far to work from the mansion at the Naval Observatory in Washington.
    AP
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    Paul Wellstone's Bus

    The late Sen. Paul Wellstone was well known for his trademark green bus that he used to get around during campaign season. The Minnesota Democrat was a former college professor, an uncommon profession among a Congress full of lawyers, and so the school bus visual resonated.  Wellstone, who was first elected in 1990, died in a plane crash in 2002.
    Center for International Education
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    Michael Dukakis' Tank

    Maybe Michael Dukakis didn't drive around a tank on a regular basis. But it's the vehicle he's associated with most.  In an infamous photo op during the 1988 presidential race, the former Massachusetts governor posed wearing a helmet in an M1 Abrams tank in Michigan. The photo op didn't go over too well, and Dukakis was later ridiculed for it. George H.W. Bush even used the image in his campaign ads.
    AP
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    Tom Daschle's Pontiac

    Former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, much like Scott Brown did more than two decades later, made his car a centerpiece of his campaign in 1986.  The South Dakota Democrat ran an ad at the time that featured him driving his beat-up Pontiac. "Maybe he's sentimental, or just cheap. Whatever the case, isn't it too bad the rest of Washington doesn't understand a penny saved is a penny earned?" the narrator in the ad said.  That ad came back to bite him, though, when it was unearthed following his nomination to be President Obama's health and human services secretary. The ad clashed with the controversy over his failure to pay more than $130,000 in taxes. Daschle was later forced to withdraw.
    YouTube
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    Fred Thompson's Chevy

    Former Sen. Fred Thompson deftly used a bold, red Chevy pick-up truck to his advantage in his first campaign for U.S. Senate in Tennessee in 1994.  The former lobbyist and actor needed an everyman image and the truck apparently did the trick, since he won in a landslide. The truck wasn't totally authentic, however. According to the Tennessean, Thompson's campaign leased the Chevy -- using it in place of his Lincoln Continental.
    AP
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    Charlie Rangel's Benz

    Rep. Charlie Rangel's 1972 Mercedes-Benz wasn't necessarily famous -- until, in a bizarre flap, he had it towed out of a House of Representatives parking garage.  The vehicle, which did not run and was under an expired registration, had been covered with a tarp in the garage, but the House prohibits storage of inoperable vehicles.
    YouTube
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