Political writing: Shadowing the candidates II

It was standard practice to cover top-of-the-ticket political campaigns in part by spending some time on the campaign trail with the candidate. In 1976 in Maine, the U.S. Senate race was between incumbent Senator Edmund S. Muskie and Republican challenger Robert A.G. Monks. I spent a day with each of the candidates and turned out these stories. Looking back, I’m not sure how much such stories added to the quality of the campaigns. But it was Standard Operating Procedure, so that’s what we did.

 EDITOR’S NOTE: Robert A.G. Monks thinks he can beat Sen, Edmund S. Muskie, D-Maine, this November because of voters’ disenchantment with the Washington establishment. UPI recently spent a day with both Monks and Muskie. Monks campaign style is examined in this, the second part of two parts.

Monks campaigns shaking hands in many places

By ARTHUR FREDERICK

FREEPORT, Maine (UPI) – Robert A.G. Monks started his day as he has started many others during his campaign against Sen. Edmund S. Muskie; he shook hands with people at their place of employment.

This time it was at L.L. Bean’s in Freeport. The handshaking took up most of the morning, and he stopped off at a lunch program for the elderly and at the local police and fire stations before he took a rare lunch break to talk about his campaign.

Monks is getting around in the same wine-red International Scout he used during the primary, and he’s still usually accompanied by John Miller, who was a graduate student at the University of Maine at Orono before getting involved in Monks’ campaign last April.

The Scout looks the same except for an antenna sprouting from the roof.

“It’s a telephone,” Miller said. “We just put it in. It’s the only way we can keep in touch with the office.”

Monks’ campaign style has some definite patterns. He likes mill gates, country stores, programs for the elderly and fire stations. He claims to have campaigned at more than 70 mill gates and more than 40 programs for the elderly, and he usually stops to talk to the firemen whenever he can.

There was only one fireman on duty at the Freeport Fire Station when Monks arrived, a man perhaps a little taller than Monks, who is six-foot-six-inches.

“You,” Monks told the man, “may be the first person I’ve met during the campaign I can look in the eye.”

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