Jim Wilson and his old truck earlier this year in Iowa (Evan Vucci/AP)
Perhaps no one has logged more miles supporting Mitt Romney's 2012 bid than Jim Wilson, a 70-year-old retired insurance salesman from Virginia whose beat-up 1998 GMC pickup decorated with American flags and massive "Romney for President" signs has been a ubiquitous presence outside campaign events for months.
Last Wednesday, Wilson's truck caught fire along a Pennsylvania highway as he was driving to catch up with the candidate for events this week, destroying it and most of Wilson's clothes and other belongings. But thanks to the Romney campaign, Wilson won't lose his status as the presumptive GOP nominee's most devoted groupie.
Romney will present Wilson with a new set of wheels at an event in Virginia on Wednesday: a 2003 Chevy pickup that the campaign purchased and plans to loan to Wilson until November, as first reported by Michael Barbaro of the New York Times.
Wilson's profane humor and summer uniform of short-shorts and white knee-high socks have made him one of the more colorful members of the Romney entourage—though Wednesday's event will mark the first time Romney has publicly acknowledged his biggest fan.
Wilson seems thrilled to be back on the road—though, in his opinion, the new truck is almost too nice. The Romney enthusiast, who is never without his wood pipe, tells Barbaro the truck is so clean, he feels "guilty smoking in it."