The Running Mate

The Running Mate

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The Running Mate, Joe Klein’s political novel, contained a fictional candidate named Charlie Martin. In this book, Charlie Martin is democratic candidate for the U. S. Senate. Martin was a Vietnam veteran, who became a politician because of his mother who was Martin’s hometown Mayor. Four years earlier, Mr. Martin ran for President. He was defeated in the primary election by the current fictional President, Democrat Jack Stanton and at the end of novel has aspirations to run for Governor. Charlie Martin has several strengths and weakness as a political candidate. Some of his strengths are that he is a good speaker, as demonstrated in the debates, a Vietnam veteran, and has experience. His major weakness was that his mind was not on the campaign, but on a woman. Also, in this novel, there were the Lords. These characters served were Charlie Martin’s Vietnam buddies. They were his friends and some were his advisors, like Gidian Reese, who was the National Security Advisor. His role as a Senator was like that of any other Senator. He votes on bills, like the bills that were proposed by President Jack Stanton, proposes bills, and accepts illegal money from outside sources. The President, media, interest groups, committees, congressional staff and money all influence on who is appointed to office. All of these people/groups influence by giving money, influencing of a persons’ background, or on who is an important person. Policy for appointing someone to office is that, if you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours. Meaning, that if someone gives you a large amount of money, then the candidate usually returns the favor by appointed him or her to a selected office.
     During Charlie Martin’s campaign to become U. S. Senator, his advantage over his opponent was that Martin was the incumbent. The term “folk-poking” generally refers to shaking hands, meeting people, and making public appearances. Elected officials use this tactic because it helps the official appear to be “of the people.” Also, it may help a potential official get his name out. Martin’s opponent, the Muffler Man, Lee Butler has several advantages over Martin. Some of these advantages are that Butler is a newcomer to politics, has his own radio show, the bible biker tour, is a well-known celebrity, and is very wealthy. The significance of family plays an important factor in Martin’s campaign. When running for an elected office the candidate’s family will be under much scrutiny.

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The family’s history, good or bad, will play a role in the candidates campaign. Such as Martin’s, quick to the draw, Father Buzz, his son Calvin, born out of wet-lock and his lady admirer Nell. The Internal function of the poles is to help a candidate with his campaign. These poles tell which candidate is the public favorite at the time the pole was taken. Focus groups try to influence a candidate on certain issues. Research departments serve the purpose of retrieving information on the current campaign, the candidates’ opponent, and in Marin’s campaign, find out which areas of the state are best for campaign. Consultants help the candidate with the campaign in general. Some of the consultants’ functions include helping to write speeches and on which people/groups are the best source for money. In this campaign the media played an important role. The newspaper, “Register World,” help bring the issues of Martin’s and Butler’s Senate locally. While C-Span, helped to bring the debates to the national level. Candidates and their staff seek to use the media by positive public appearances and on the candidate’s position on the issues at hand. In my reading of the novel, the best way for the candidates to control the media is to appear as a “statesmen” at all times and to stay away from all negative influences outside of the campaign. In this novel, Republican Lee Butler defeated Charlie Martin to win the election. Lee Butler won this election because he was a newcomer to the political scene. A very popular man, whose Muffler Man business was well- known and respected for quality service. Butler used all Martin’s negatives to his advantage, despite the negative issue of his wife’s abortion. In my opinion, Martin could have done several things different to win this election. He could have stayed at home a campaigned more rather than running off to New York to chase Nell. Also, he could have broke the story of Butler’s wife earlier, rather than waiting for the media to pick up on the story just before the vote took place.
     In conclusion, the crucial element that was glossed over in the novel was element of money. In my readings, the issue of money in the campaign seemed to be mystery to me. The novel does not mention how Charlie received money except when he received money from Oskar Miller, which was done discreetly. Also there is no mention of fund-raising. Finally, who was the running mate? If the running mate is the centerpiece of the novel then, the running mate is Nell. Nell is the centerpiece because everything that Charlie does had to do with Nell. One of Martin’s advisers believed that the success of the campaign was dependent on Nell. So when Nell left after the first debate, the campaign left with her.
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