FILE-- Jim Wilson rolls up the American flags on his truck at a campaign event with Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, April 27, 2012. Wilson, a 69-year-old former life insurance salesman and Republican from Virginia, has been following Romney around the country for the past year.
For the past year, Jim Wilson, 69, has devoted himself with the single-mindedness of a college-age groupie to following Romney around the country. He has driven, sometimes nonstop, from Omaha, Neb., to Charlotte, N.C., (19 hours), Portsmouth, Va., to Tampa, Fla., (14 hours) and Des Moines to Manchester, N.H., (22 hours), showing up, almost without fail, just in time to greet guests outside of a Romney event.
In the process, he and his pickup truck -- festooned with 27 Romney for President posters -- have become a kind of mobile barometer of Romney's popularity. Mostly, though, the feedback can be broken down into two categories: a raised thumb or a middle finger. "These days," he said, "the thumbs up are vastly outnumbering the third digits. I like that."
His truck is about to hit the 300,000-mile mark and could use a few repairs. Even so, he is gearing up for his longest drive yet, a 38-hour trek from Virginia to California. He thinks the truck can muddle through until Jan. 20. "My last event," he said, "is Romney's inauguration."
NEW YORK TIMES