A Good Reason
“No, we made it safely onto the last flight out of La Guardia,” Mike said into his cellphone. “Apparently the blizzard hit just after we took off.”
Senator Mike Adams stood out in his white dress shirt and red tie, the only person dressed for the season in the small Baggage Claim of Gainesville’s regional airport. In his early 40s, the Senator has more gray hairs than he’d like and also had filled out in his stomach. This time of year especially he was more self-conscious about his portly belly as he could pass for Santa’s middle-aged son.
That’s just one reason out of many that he was glad to be back in Florida. At least here he has escaped snow storms, black ice, and other wintry hazards.
With him on the trip was his chief of staff, Scott MacDonald. Normally Mike flies home alone or with a low-level aide, but Scott had family in the area and appreciated the extra time to brief the Senator on the plane down from New York.
Scott grabbed one of their bags off the carousel.
“I missed that?!?” the Senator asked. “Damn.”
Scott gave his boss a quizzical look.
The Senator covered his cell and explained. “David just said his first word.”
“Santa – only it came out more like Sanna.”
The pride was evident on the Senator’s face. The baby was a bit of a miracle in and of itself, so the father was enjoying every minute that he could.
“Try to get him to say it again on camera,” the Senator pleaded.
A moment of silence as Scott picked up their other bag.
“Ashley, I promise you I won’t use it in a campaign ad.”
“Senator,” Scott interjected while thumbing through emails on his phone.
“I’ll call you back. Love you,” Mike said.
“I hate to kill the mood. But the bundlers meeting appears to have gone very well,” he reported. “Rakesha is still collecting checks up in New York, but she has already counted two dozen commitments to raise a hundred each.”
“I’ll never understand that.”
“A dinner with rich people who only promise to do something in the future.”
They made their way through the airport exit and headed for the parking lot.
“If you knew me before all this, you would agree. ‘Adams for America’? On my list of bad ideas, me running for President would be near the top. And getting a bunch of wealthy liberals to raise $2 million on the hypothetical that I might decide to run is even crazier.”
“Carolyn was in the field in Iowa and—“
“—It’s all hype.”
Scott opened their rented SUV and they got in.
“Once the indictments and resignations and convictions all leave the front page,” Mike said as he buckled in. He was referring to the corruption ring he exposed during debate over a Supreme Court justice. “Well, my name recognition will go down and my approval rating in middle America will drift down to somewhere between a spotted owl and the Tea Party.”
“So what’s the harm?”
The Senator considered the expression on his aide’s face. He was serious. And Mike had no really good retort. “Fine. Continue to explore, do your research, and bundle commitments. Create your pros and cons list. But don’t expect me to get excited about it.”
The Senator glared at him as they peeled out of the parking lot.
“How can you be so sure?”
Mike’s cell vibrated. He picked it up, so Scott said nothing.
“Ashley sent a video,” Mike explained.
He pressed play.
In the video, little David Adams was sitting down on the couch playing with a stuffed alligator that was wearing a t-shirt for the University of Florida. His tuft of brown hair and big blue eyes had made him a cute baby.
Ashley, from behind the camera, asked him, “Can you say Santa for Mommy?”
David looked up at her blankly.
Ashley repeated herself. “Santa?”
David tilted his head. “Dada?”
She giggled. “That’s right. Daddy’s Santa.”
As the video ended, Mike had the biggest grin of his life on his face. A tear was welling up inside.
Scott cleared his throat as they made their way into Mike’s neighborhood. His small house was richly decorated with Christmas lights. A huge wreath was hung on the front door.
Mike turned to his aide to say goodbye. Scott was looking at Mike’s cell.
“You asked earlier how I could convince you to run,” Scott said. “The answer is the same as with every one of your campaigns. It’s about the people of this state, the people you love. To give them all a better future.”
Scott continued, “You’re going to run for President, Senator. And I know this because of the look in your eye when you watched your son just now. You’re going to do it for him.”
Mike started playing the video again. He sighed with a smile. “For David.”