Election 2008: The Choice

Though a poll taken in July at etrucker.com showed Republican nominee John McCain substantially ahead of Democrat Barack Obama among respondents, a strong “lesser of two evils” sentiment exists among drivers toward the two major candidates.

By Todd Dills and Max Kvidera

This year’s presidential election is garnering the attention of truck drivers across the country like no other contest in decades. And it’s no wonder.

With America fighting wars on two fronts and economic woes at home – a sinking housing market, depressed freight volumes and soaring fuel prices to name a few – most people are looking to November with both anticipation and apprehension.

And, as ever, it’s the federal government that holds the ultimate regulatory authority over the interstate trucking industry, and thus the choice of the highest executive of the land commands significance with regard to any number of issues. From interstate highway development, funding and construction to the cross-border trucking program to health requirements for commercial driver’s license holders to idling restrictions, the president of the United States exerts tremendous influence on the direction regulators, Congress and the courts take in addressing new and lingering problems.

Though a poll taken in July at etrucker.com showed Republican nominee John McCain substantially ahead of Democrat Barack Obama among respondents, a strong “lesser of two evils” sentiment exists among drivers toward the two major candidates. Neither campaign responded to repeated interview requests from Truckers News, and their stances on many regulatory issues pertinent to truck drivers often must be deduced from their positions on other issues.

Still, for the cynical and apathetic souls who would say the presidential choice doesn’t matter, Tim Lynch, a senior vice president of the American Trucking Associations, counters: “There will be a president, there will be a secretary of transportation, there will be a secretary of labor and federal judges nominated. There are many decisions that will emanate from whomever gets elected president, and it’s not just who gets elected president but the philosophy of the candidate that needs to be considered.”

That philosophy, Lynch says, will have a “huge effect on everything that happens in this industry.” In that regard, much is at stake in this election. Following you’ll find analysis and viewpoints from key industry stakeholders, fellow drivers and other sources on core industry issues and each candidate’s potential to affect the business of trucking and the driver’s lifestyle.

The Madding Crowd
Fueled by high pump prices, a slew of big ideas for pulling through the energy crisis

The state of the nation’s energy policy can be summed up in a single statement, says Chattanooga, Tenn.-based owner-operator Michael Goodman. “We don’t really have any sort of energy policy,” he says. But with diesel prices having nearly doubled in just a year, owner-operators and fleets feeling the pinch are looking frantically for a solution.

McCain’s and Obama’s policies are similar, with exceptions. Both men favor a move toward alternative energy sources across the spectrum. In a June 18 News Hour With Jim Lehrer segment on energy policy, though, differences in emphasis were highlighted. Obama adviser Jason Grumet advocated moving more quickly to “get off of oil” entirely, and McCain adviser Doug Holz-Eakin urged more off-shore drilling to send a short-term message to energy markets, putting downward pressure on crude prices. Grumet suggested a reality check was in order for the American public. “Three-quarters of every barrel we produce in this country goes to benefit somebody else,” he told News Hour viewers. “The only way we’re going to regain any control of our own destiny is if we stop having this kind of silly debate about ‘it’s foreign oil versus domestic oil’ and recognize we have to get off of oil. Until we diversify our energy so that we are not dependent for 97 percent out of our transportation system on oil, we will be at the mercy of people who don’t hold our interests at heart. Our economy will be vulnerable; our national security will be vulnerable.”

Holz-Eakin countered that, long-term, the oil addiction is going to be harder to defeat than the Obama campaign might realize. He repeated McCain’s calls for more offshore drilling to bolster domestic supply, which were echoed in July by President Bush’s lifting the executive ban on drilling the offshore continental shelf. At press time, Congress was in recess and had not lifted the congressional ban.

Many drivers support further drilling, but the finely diced sentiments of the major candidates’ advisers don’t do much to impress most. In July, though, the specifics of hedge fund chairman and longtime oil investor T. Boone Pickens’ energy plan lit up both the national airwaves and trucking message boards. Pickens spawned an idea to roll out a massive wind-power effort in the central United States to replace natural gas-powered plants on the grid, with more private investment in natural gas-powered vehicles to partly replace the gas and diesel fleets on the road today.

“I have not heard either of these candidates even mention natural gas or wind power,” both readily available domestic energy sources, says owner-operator Goodman.

Pickens announced his plan upon introducing his own large wind farm project in Texas. “He seems to want to force the government to do something,” Goodman says. “I believe that any sort of solution will come from people such as Pickens, or at least the private sector, rather than the government. I think this is an issue where the people will need to lead the politicians.”

Company tanker operator Rick Gaskill, driving for a small fleet leased to Quality Carriers, concurs. “There is little our government or any other one government can do about fuel prices except to avoid the threat of hostilities with countries like Iran that cause speculators to raise prices.” Though the U.S. trade embargo with Iran remains in place, the global nature of the oil market holds the potential to turn every ripple in the world supply-and-demand equation into a wave.

Many argue, however, that excessive speculation on futures markets functions toward its own self-fulfilling price prophecy, and speculators’ role in driving up the price has been cast in the media spotlight since Truckers News reported on it in July. Both Obama and, to a lesser extent, McCain have called for closing the “Enron loophole” that exempts much of the speculation by U.S. institutional investors from any sort of oversight and for regulating the so-called “dark markets” where oil futures are traded worldwide. Both candidates’ willingness to put at least a few teeth into market oversight might well be seen as evidence they’d support the mandatory fuel-surcharge pass-through legislation that was making the congressional rounds in several bills at press time. Similar to the transparency issue at the heart of the energy market transactions, the fuel-surcharge legislation, at its core, addresses transparency in brokered freight transactions.

“If you could see what the broker is charging the shipper, including the fuel surcharge,” Goodman says, “then you could decide whether you wanted to do business with them or not. I am not sure that one candidate would be better than another on this issue.” Though from a legislative standpoint, Goodman says, Obama may be more likely to support it. “Nancy Pelosi has been a sponsor in the past. It makes them appear to be helping the average person.”

“We have talked to lawmakers about this subject for years,” says Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “Anything other than passing along the cost is simply a fraud, not only to the trucker but the consumer.”

But David Owen, president of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, says the federal government should stay out of the fuel-surcharge equation entirely. He says the Canadian government unsuccessfully tried it. “What benchmark do you use?” he asks.

“For many, independent trucking is a fulfillment of an American dream,” says Larry Daniel, president of the close-to-40,000 owner-operator affiliates of America’s Independent Truckers Association. “Right now, that dream has turned into something of a bad dream because of things outside of the control of the trucker.”

A National Anti-Idling Law on the Horizon?
The majority of truckers continue to idle when necessary to keep their cabs comfortable for sleeping during federally mandated rest periods. Technology exists to eliminate this practice, but its expense puts it out of reach for many trucking businesses. Where they exist, current idling restrictions are a broad patchwork of state and local laws limiting or prohibiting idling. Some have exemptions for truckers’ 10-hour rest periods; some do not. Overall, many drivers are uncertain of what to expect from one highway exit to the next. In some jurisdictions, ramped-up enforcement of local laws has preyed on out-of-state truckers.

“These laws are just money makers,” says owner-operator Michael Goodman. “They are discriminatory to the trucking industry. What some of us are doing is avoiding those areas – avoiding California, avoiding Florida, avoiding New York.”

That’s not an option for many.

Truckload Carriers Association President Chris Burruss says the very idea of a national anti-idling law assumes the industry has an alternative to idling. The alternatives, he argues, are not there yet. “Technologies on the market will provide a solution, although it’s not an inexpensive proposition,” Burruss says, pointing to the cost of today’s APU. “We would like to see Congress and the states look at incentives to help offset those costs.” Boosting the ease of access to anti-idling equipment is a goal espoused by the EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership, but a majority of owner-operators and trucking companies whose businesses might benefit from anti-idling equipment still do not have APUs.

NASTC President Dave Owen says House bill H.R.6049, which passed the House but failed a vote for consideration in the Senate (neither Obama nor McCain voted in that roll call), would provide tax credits for energy-conserving equipment, such as APUs. “I hope that by 2012, they’ll be manufacturing trucks that have APUs” as standard equipment, Owen says, rather than the optional nature of most truck OEMs’ anti-idling systems today.

While both candidates pledge a move toward conservation, the preference for incentives over mandates in achieving the goal, as held by Burruss, seems to be part of the typical, business-friendly Republican playbook. However, both candidates support cap-and-trade programs, where the price of emissions credits above restrictive limits on carbon markets could be set via buying and selling – a roundabout way of both mandating and incentivizing conservation. With U.S. and world markets in turmoil, trucking interests are understandably skeptical of these programs. Testifying recently on behalf of the American Trucking Associations before a House subcommittee on energy and air quality, Con-Way Inc.’s Randy Mullett, vice president for government relations, emphasized that while a regional patchwork of cap-and-trade programs might be appropriate for stationary emissions sources, the industry would oppose “carbon emission caps being placed on the trucking sector as unworkable and impracticable given the interstate and diverse nature of our business operations.” Also addressed were concerns about the potential of caps to put upward pressure on fuel prices and affect fuel availability.

Rerouting Our Infrastructure
Truckers faced for-profit toll roads under the Bush administration; with the highway bill reauthorization coming in 2009, a new funding model could be in the cards

The story of the trucking industry and the federal government under the Bush administration can’t possibly be complete without addressing the federal approach to solving the highway congestion problem and providing a model for future development and maintenance. The primary point of contention has been the trucking community’s concern over the erosion of the traditional highway-funding model – the per-gallon fuels tax – under Bush in favor of alternatives like tolls at the state level in concert with for-profit highway operators. Many argue the current strategy will fracture what once was a grand vision of an integrated, free-to-travel interstate highway network.

Where Obama and McCain stand on these issues drew some media attention during the primaries, with the much-publicized flap over McCain’s proposal to suspend federal fuels taxes for the summer. Obama took advantage of the opportunity to express a point of view many in the trucking industry share: Fuel-tax money is for the roads, and the roads need help. Obama supported creating a dedicated infrastructure reinvestment bank similar to that proposed the very day of the Minneapolis I-35W bridge collapse in 2007 by senators Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) in bill S.1926 and Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) in bill H.R.3401. Michael Moynihan, a fellow with the progressive think tank NDN, in a white paper on the subject, says the legislation “creates a bank that would accept loan requests from public authorities and, depending on the merit of the request, offer financing through general purpose and special project infrastructure bonds as well as guarantees of state and local bonds.” The upshot is the creation of a singular federal entity to guide long-term public investment in all infrastructure projects – not just roads but public buildings, airports and the like.

Both candidates seem to want to chip away at the current approach to highway funding, which has evolved over the years in the interstate highway arena to more state and local discretion on projects. While Obama spoke of returning broad infrastructure vision to the federal level via his proposals, McCain called for the fuel-tax holiday and blasted fellow politicians for earmark budgeting for unnecessary projects, citing this as the primary cause of the nation’s transportation woes, including the Minneapolis disaster. The earmarking practice has been part and parcel of such local discretion, the refuge of congressmen attempting to secure budget appropriations for favored projects in their districts. McCain calls for a ban on the practice.

While Obama’s infrastructure bank idea offers a new funding mechanism to borrow on infrastructure as an asset to leverage for large, long-term projects – he has said ending the Iraq war would be one source for the revenue – legislation written last year toward this end places a preference on private-sector involvement. And not just in the construction/contractor arena. According to the text of the legislation, the projects the bank would help fund would be selected with a “preference for projects which leverage private financing, including public-private partnerships, for either the explicit cost of the project or for enhancements which increase the benefits of the project.”

The concept, says ATA’s Tim Lynch, “avoids having to look at additional revenues going into the asset. Banks and bonds aren’t free. You have to pay for them and pay interest on them.”

Infrastructure investment is on every trucking group’s agenda, but using toll roads to pay for it isn’t. Almost unanimous support is seen for dedicated user fees and fuel-tax revenue to do the job. “It’s amazing to me that states are selling off parts of the interstate because they can’t afford to maintain them,” NASTC’s David Owen says. “We pay a ton in fuel taxes and other taxes, but the money doesn’t get spent the way it should.”

But many in the trucking industry recognize that the purchasing power of the fuels tax has been steadily eroding. “The problem with fuel conservation,” says driver Gaskill, “is many states are complaining about loss of income from gas taxes. Tollways seem inevitable if highways are to be maintained. Not enough attention is being given to public transportation. I was in Atlanta when they hosted the Olympics. Buses were brought in from all over the country, and Atlanta traffic was much lighter than normal. More companies need to go to four 10-hour days (or even three 12s) and increase telecommuting.”

The per-gallon fuel tax at the pump is a static one, and it hasn’t changed in more than a decade, while fuel has jumped more than 300 percent. A report in 2007 from the American Transportation Research Institute, the research arm of the American Trucking Associations, recommended a gradual 20-cent hike in the per-gallon tax. Organizations outside of trucking have proposed hiking it 40 cents or more.

Highway to Better Health
Potential new CDL health requirements and the rising cost of insurance and care weigh on drivers’ minds

The Truckers News Fit for the Road program, now in its second year, has functioned in a twofold manner: It has highlighted the unique health needs and concerns of the American truck driver, but likewise has functioned as an enabler of change, inspiring drivers to make a positive difference in their own health and well-being. With ever-more-stringent recommendations coming from the Medical Review Board to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for changes to the health qualifications that come with a commercial driver’s license, getting fit has never been more relevant to your livelihood.

“As an older driver, I see increased health regulations as threatening,” says Gaskill, 58. “I think the sleep apnea issue is blown way out of proportion. A driver knows if he gets enough sleep.” Any mandate for apnea testing, Gaskill says, would just give carriers another excuse to keep drivers’ wages down. “Would municipal governments be willing to bear these expenses to test drivers like policemen, fireman, EMTs and other public service employees?”

FMCSA has not acted directly on any of the Medical Review Board’s recommendations. Queries to the agency’s public affairs office typically are met with a reply to the effect that the MRB’s recommendations are just that – not to be seen as law or even potential law until a proposed rulemaking is issued. Whether a new administration would make a difference is unclear, but on other health matters, there’s much more to go on.

Pam and Jack Henderson, of Skiatook, Okla., are owner-operators leased to Crete Carrier, running Wal-Mart freight. They drove team before Jack was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2004 and came off the road. They needed insurance, but with a pre-existing condition like Jack’s, direct purchase was in most cases not an option at all, and when it was possible it was prohibitively expensive. They took the best option available and bought into Crete’s group comprehensive coverage at a monthly $900 premium. They write most of the yearly expense off of their taxes by establishing a Health Reimbursement Arrangement with Total Administrative Services Corp.’s BizPlan service, with Pam and Jack as both employees of their business, Millstone Mountain Trucking. The business pays the premium and other health expenses for the two, and the amount comes out of their taxable income. Even with the tax savings, though, they average $14,200 yearly in health expenses, including premiums, a financial problem many Americans face.

Among truck drivers, where the self-employed nature of owner-operators and the on-the-road lifestyle make the problem acute, even average company driver out-of-pocket insurance cost is $82 monthly for single coverage and $260 monthly for family coverage, according to the National Transportation Institute. And according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Medical Expenditure Panel, as we reported in January, per-employee annual premiums in the transportation and utilities sector between 1998 and 2005 rose by an average 8 percent annually, well above inflation. If the rate holds through subsequent years – and there is evidence to suggest that it has been higher – data might show an average $5,050 yearly premium for this year.

The Obama and McCain health insurance action plans differ in approach. Obama proposes a national plan available to individuals and families, small businesses and the self-employed, mandatory coverage of children and other measures. McCain favors tax credits on the purchase of insurance for individuals and businesses, a program similar to Bush’s approach with its emphasis on tax-deductible Health Savings Accounts for individuals and business deductions. But McCain also is proposing governmental action beyond the current Medicaid program at the state level to cover those who can’t afford private coverage.

Gaskill thinks whichever candidate can inspire the most downward price pressure is likely taking the write tack. He’s happy with his plan – his health insurance is through his wife’s employer, the U.S. Postal Service. Gaskill and owner-operator Goodman agree on this point. Employers, not individuals or government, are best equipped in the current system to force prices downward. Coupled with significant tax breaks for health investment, this might do the job, they say.

HOS Still Under Review
With the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration still reviewing, under court order, their institution of the 11th hour of driving and the 34-hour restart provisions of the last hours change, drivers and owner-operators today work under the FMCSA’s Interim Final Rule, which preserved the provisions in anticipation of the review.

“I expect to see more changes to the hours of service,” says owner-operator Michael Goodman. “We seem to see changes about every year or two.”

While some trucking leaders believe the hours of service regulations are working, AITA President Larry Daniel says the program should be changed. “The way they are now is not workable,” he says. “It doesn’t allow any flexibility.”

NASTC President David Owen says the hours should be adjusted for different groups of drivers. “A long-haul, full-truckload carrier has the same hours of service as a bus driver,” he says. “Government should have three or four sets of categories.” He adds, “There should be some kind of split sleeper berth arrangement to make it work.”

“I would think McCain would be better for trucking on the issue,” Goodman says, citing historical Republican favor of free markets and individuals’ control of their businesses.

TCA President Chris Burruss says the frequent changes undermine the industry’s stability. “How many times are we going to change the rules before drivers say, ‘I’m not going to do this anymore?'”

The new reciprocity
The cross-border trucking program and trade policy

Repeal? Renegotiate? Abide by its terms? “NAFTA has been a disaster from the beginning,” says owner-operator Goodman. “It is good for Mexico but bad for the U.S.”

Reciprocity among states for interstate haulers was once a big point of contention among industry political watchers. The new reciprocity might be the view from each side of the U.S. border with Mexico, with the general economic inequality of the residents of the NAFTA trade partners leading Goodman and many others in the trucking community to listen with extreme skepticism to any mention of the agreement. In place for nearly 15 years, NAFTA mandated, in its original form, parity among the United States, Mexico and Canada on trucking operations. But on the southern border, a drayage system for virtually all international trucking shipments has been in place since that time. The Bush administration’s cross-border demonstration project, begun in September 2007, continues, with limited participation from Mexican and U.S. carriers. As of press time, a total 25 Mexican carriers had some trucks approved for the program, with 10 American carriers approved. The program had been launched with a potential 100 carriers to participate on each side.

With neither Obama nor McCain having voted in the Senate roll call on H.R. 2764, the appropriations bill passed last December that contained language intended to cut funding to the program, it’s hard to determine where their support ultimately lies. McCain, though, recently told the National Council of La Raza, a nonprofit and nonpartisan advocacy group, he was an “unapologetic supporter” of NAFTA and other free-trade agreements. Obama, on the other hand, has been noted in opposition to the cross-border program and has been endorsed by the Teamsters Union, one of the program’s most vocal critics. Along with Public Citizen, OOIDA and others challenging the program, the Teamsters are party to a lawsuit currently awaiting a decision from a panel of judges. A Teamsters spokeswoman told San Diego Union-Tribune reporters Paul M. Krawzak and Sandra Dibble in May that she was confident the cross-border program would not continue under an Obama administration.

Driver Gaskill, who determined to vote for the Democratic candidate no matter who it was after Bush’s attempt at a guest-worker program and bungling of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, says he’s not too worried about the cross-border program. “I have far less concern on this issue than most,” he says. “Our government has a commitment with the NAFTA agreements.” On a tangential but separate issue, he says large carriers’ recruitment of cheap immigrant labor is more of a direct threat to business than Mexican trucking companies operating beyond the commercial zone.

Owner-operator Goodman echoes the concern. “Some of the large U.S. carriers may get involved in Mexico,” he says, “by buying out or putting business relationships together with Mexican carriers.”

Downhill run
Independent contractor misclassification issues gain momentum

State and federal maneuvering to open up prosecution of the misclassification of workers as independent contractors rather than employees has sent a wave of worry through construction, trucking and other industries. The Independent Contractor Proper Classification Act of 2007 was a Barack Obama-sponsored bill that, along with several state laws aimed mostly at the construction industry, have had some commentators speculating about an attack on the owner-operator. Or at least the leased owner-operator.

What is clear is that the act would:

  1. Repeal the ban on prosecution of independent contractor misclassification and set up a reporting and enforcement arm under the U.S. Treasury Department where independent contractors could petition the government over alleged misclassifications and
  2. Eliminate the safe harbor of the “everybody’s doing it” defense from the repertoire of employers charged with misclassification.

“Labor laws have never been effectively enforced,” says driver Gaskill, who sees the loophole some businesses have been squirming through here. “There are too many loopholes. The same with independent contractor classification.”

For drivers looking to go independent and try their hand at owning their own small business, leasing to a large carrier as an independent contractor is often the best way to get started in the business. This sort of act might have a chilling effect on carriers’ willingness to lease owner-operators. Henry Seaton, who writes a column for Truckers News’ sister fleet magazine CCJ, earlier this year called the act an invitation to “frivolous claims” against carriers that would provide no additional clarification.

The winds of change are blowing pretty hard, it seems. Independent contractor definition “has been a very hot topic on the state level,” says ATA’s Lynch. Since different states have taken different approaches to redefining independent contractors, he adds, “it’s hard to comment on the state level. At the federal level, we don’t see the need to tinker with definitions and the parameters of independent contractors.” New Mexico, Massachusetts, Illinois and New Jersey have in recent years aimed new laws specifically at misclassification in the construction industry, affecting some trucking companies utilizing owner-operators who haul locally or regionally to construction sites. On the judicial front, FedEx Ground/Home Delivery independent contractors in nine states recently received notice that they’ve been granted class action status in a suit against the carrier for benefits and other payments typically going to employees (see www.fedexdriverslawsuit.com).

Lynch calls it a “safe bet” that McCain would be against a bill of the type introduced by Obama last year, and an Obama administration wouldn’t mean such a redefinition would be successful in Congress. The Obama bill failed last year.

Truckers for President
They don’t expect to win, but they believe they are doing their patriotic duty. Their campaigns run on a shoestring, are largely self-financed and fly well under even the lowest radar.

At least three trucking professionals were in the running for president in 2008. One of them, union driver Karl Krueger, dropped out of the Democratic race after struggling to raise money and get on state primary ballots. He spent about $5,000 of his own money and raised less than $1,000. When he had to start filling out his own federal election reports as well as campaigning, he decided he didn’t have the time and gave it up.

John Bootie, a driver for Delmarva Millworks in Lancaster, Pa., says he entered the race as an independent “because both parties have let everybody in this country down, and it’s time people should become statesmen like the ones who founded this country.”

Bootie meets with people at truckstops, restaurants or wherever he makes deliveries to talk about politics and issues. He tells them there are other candidates besides the Democrats and Republicans.

He’s in favor of setting up Ellis Island-type ports to screen immigrants and getting away from professional politicians and is opposed to allowing Mexican truck drivers in the U.S. beyond a border buffer zone. “Another thing I’m uptight about is the lack of truck parking along highways,” he says. “I tried to get legislation changed in Pennsylvania to open up parking along highway ramps. They wouldn’t hear of it. We’ve got regulations that truck drivers can only work 14 hours a day, but we don’t provide enough places where they can take their breaks.”

Bootie, 54, believes every truck should have an APU to reduce idling, though he doesn’t say how that would be done. He’s upset with local officials who want to reduce idling but aren’t thinking of the driver’s welfare. “Let’s have people who want to eliminate all idling turn off their furnaces at night and see how they like it,” he says.

Bill Ingram, an owner-operator who drives for Meyer Bros. in Elk Mound, Wis., is another independent candidate for president. A former Air Force special agent and police computer specialist, Ingram says he vowed to run when an incumbent wasn’t in the race. “I believe my background has led to me being able to solve our problems as a nation,” he says. “I can pinpoint and fix what’s wrong.”

Speaking from the road in his Freightliner, decorated to advertise his candidacy, Ingram says his top priority is to change how Congress does business. “There are these omnibus spending bills,” he says. “There’s no way to hold Congressmen accountable. I’d support a clean-bill act where every piece of legislation stands on its own and isn’t lumped in with other bills.”

Ingram, 51, wants to end the Iraq war and send the war bill to the Iraqis. He would secure the Iraqi oil fields and pull 50,000 U.S. troops back home to guard the nation’s borders against illegal immigrants and terrorists, he says. He would inspect all incoming cargo and charge the importers.

Ingram would put trucking under a single federal agency and try to make life easier for truckers. He says that agency should give truckers a free inspection of their vehicle, like the FAA does for airplane owners. He would make the interstate speed limit the same for passenger cars and trucks.

As with other minor candidates, Ingram has found raising money to be a chore. His only contribution: $10 at Mt. Rushmore. He’s spent $2,000 of his own for polo shirts, business cards and to decorate his truck. He hoped to go around the country and raise another $10,000 by the end of July. If he raises enough money, he will take a leave of absence.

Ingram has a back-up plan if his presidential run falls short: running for Congress. “Everything I’m pushing for as president, I can start to do in the House,” he says. “Since McCain and Obama are in the Senate, why don’t they suggest legislation now for things they’re recommending? If you can’t get it done now, how can we expect you to get it done once you’re elected?”

Krueger says his run for the White House surprised a lot of people. Producers for radio interview shows would call about doing a show, expecting to mine a little comedy with a truck driver, he says. “They found out I had done my research and had serious answers,” says Krueger, 61, who drives a Sioux Falls, S.D.-to-Chicago run for Yellow Freight.

He recalls a North Dakota state senator who invited him to go on a radio talk show with him. The politician thought he, too, would have a little fun with a trucker, Krueger says. “After the show, he told me I sounded like I’d be a good candidate.”

Out of the Mainstream
Running for president is a popular pursuit. Besides John McCain and Barack Obama, many individuals, young and old, men and women, gainfully employed and on the fringes, have registered with the Federal Election Commission to run for the White House. A list of candidates from political organizations other than the Republican and Democratic parties who have registered as presidential hopefuls is available online. Many hundreds of others have registered as independents without a party affiliation or support. Visit the FEC at www.fec.gov for more information.

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