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Posted: 8/14/2007 7:39:58 AM EDT
August 11, 2007, 1:04 pm

Make Way for the Fred Heads

By Michael Luo
A Fred Thompson supporter.

AMES, Iowa — The Fred Heads are here.

The non-candidate candidate, Fred D. Thompson, who is nevertheless on the ballot here at the state’s Republican straw poll, has a beachhead, thanks to a hardy band of enterprising supporters who drove here from Texas.

Dan Garcia, 30, a senior and political science major at Texas A&M University, asked his buddy, Cody Dumas, “Hey, do you want to drive to Iowa?”

“This is our Super Bowl,” said Mr. Garcia about the straw poll.

On Wednesday, after Mr. Garcia’s history final exam, they set out with another friend. They connected with Ken Emanuelson, 36, a lawyer from Dallas they met online, after they sent out an e-mail blast to other Fred Heads about their idea to crash the Ames straw poll.

Mr. Emanuelson got on the phone with the Iowa Republican Party, the host of the straw poll, begging for a table, or even a patch of grass. He was told it would be $1,000.

Mr. Garcia and his friends were only able to rustle up about $150 through some car washes, so once again they sent out an e-mail asking if anyone wanted to chip in money for the trip.

That was Thursday night. Friday morning, they turned on the computer and the money and messages of support were flowing in. They realized they had enough for a table. Score!

“Honestly, we were ready to just sit out in the parking lot,” Mr. Garcia said.

They used some of the other money that came in to buy materials for some 2,000 rudimentary buttons that read, “I’m with Fred,” purchased for a nickel a piece.

They also printed out 5,000 business cards reading “Fred Dalton Thompson in 2008!!!” for a penny a piece.

After staying overnight at a campground in Colo, Iowa, they arrived on Saturday morning in Ames, bullhorn in hand.

They found their table nestled next to Alan Keyes’s. The Keyes people let them borrow their generator. And they were in business.

They have high hopes for their non-candidate candidate at the straw poll.

“I would love for him to come in second place,” Mr. Garcia said. “That way, when we graduate, we can get jobs.”

Mr. Emanuelson pointed out: “We are going to have the lowest dollar per vote.”
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