Told through the eyes of young political consultant Harvey Burton, Klein's debut novel, a thinly-veiled portrait of the 1992 Democratic presidential primaries, is a biting satire of the political game.
When Harvey Burton is approached by representatives of Jack Stanton, the youthful, charismatic governor of a small southern state, he thinks it's just another job. But then a strange thing happens. He actually begins to believe in his candidate. And that could be a problem, because Jack Stanton's candidacy seems to be doomed before it even begins.
As the episodic plot careens from crisis to crisis, Henry and his motley crew of oddball campaign workers must deal with the threat posed by the governor of New York, whose mere existence as a possible contender is enough to drain their funds. Then he has to fend off reporters asking about Stanton's draft-dodging during Vietnam. Then the news of an extramarital affair hits the papers.
And then there are the other candidates to deal with. Most of them aren't serious contenders, but one of them, Lawrence Harris, a retired senator from New Hampshire with an attractive platform and a slick campaign, threatens to snatch victory from Stanton's grasp before the first primary has ended.
When Senator Harris suffers an unexpected heart-attack and slips into a coma, it seems that Stanton and his campaign will win. Until the fallen senator's wife unveils a replacement candidate.
Fred Picker used to be Jack Stanton, a long time ago. Now he's Stanton's worst nightmare: a charismatic campaigner with a knack for playing to the cameras and the help of the sympathy vote. Soon the Stanton campaign finds itself hampered by scandal after scandal as it fights the ultimate uphill battle against a brilliant political mind.
This report prepared by James Craver