While Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich toured Iowa in luxury-appointed and multi-couched large buses, Rick Santorum was driven to all 99 counties in a 2006 four-door Ram 1500 Mega Cab (reported to have more than 178,000 miles on it) purchased by campaign aide Chuck Laudner. In fact, some in the campaign have started calling the Ram the "Chuck Truck," and it is beginning to draw more attention as Santorum's momentum grows.
Apparently, the Ram is frequently mentioned by Santorum in his speeches and is used as something of a prop at his events. And he has admitted to owning a second Ram with more than 300,000 miles on the odometer.
Critics argue the Ram is a blatant campaign tactic to engratiate Santorum with the truck-loving, no-nonsense voters. Others say the candidate is "just keeping it real."
This certainly isn't be the first time pickup trucks have been dragged into a political argument; all you have to do is read some of the PUTC posts for a little while to see that. And with GM and Chrysler benefiting from financial support from the federal government (some say loans; others say bailouts), it seems destined that someone's vehicle of choice will become an issue as we get closer to Election Day in November.
And it looks like it worked. Santorum, the heavy underdog before the Iowa caucus, lost to favorite Romney by the narrowest of margins. This could mean we'll hear more about the Chuck Truck in upcoming state caucuses. No word yet as to how the other candidates will respond.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum (left) with campaign aide Chuck Laudner in a Ram 1500.