And His Vigilante White House Staff
When they didn’t receive confirmation that Clint Lattimore was dead, those involved in the conspiracy to kill him didn’t know how to proceed. There was no police report or news story about the incident. It was basically a non-event. When they contacted the secret criminal organization that employed the killer team, they didn’t have any information either. It was as if the five men had just vanished. When Clint began making public appearances, confusion abounded.
The middle-aged woman was irate at the turn of events, “So what do we do now?”
The Democratic Strategist shrugged, “Another attempt on his life would be a serious mistake in my opinion.”
The Republican Deep-Stater, “Obviously we know only one thing for sure.”
Middle-Aged Woman, “Which is?”
“That the attempt on Lattimore’s life failed. Whether the men were captured or killed is of little consequence at this point. The Lattimore team would have to be very foolish not to increase security and be prepared for another attempt,” The Republican Deep-Stater continued.
“McNally is no fool and his radar is going to be pointing at the rival campaigns and eventually at us.”
“Gentlemen, I repeat my question; what do we do now?”
“Increase our own security, keep our heads on a swivel and hope for the best,” The Democratic Strategist swallowed hard and wiped the nervous perspiration from his brow.
Clint had a job to do and the fact that danger was now part of it was of little concern to him. He would take the necessary precautions like he had always done in his military career, but he gave his word to McNally and he would keep it. Clint looked at the campaign like it was just another deployment. When it was over and he had lost, he would go back to his regular jobs.
“How are you at giving speeches?” Warren McNally asked.
“I gave a couple when I was in high school and I had to say something when I got the Congressional Medal of Honor,” Clint answered.
“I’d like you to work with someone on effective speech techniques, if you don’t mind?” Warren McNally suggested.
“If you think it’s best.”
Lori Grace owned a public relations business and was also a political consultant. She was 43 years old, divorced and a mother of two teenage girls. Her main office was in San Diego and she also had offices in New York, London and Honolulu. Warren McNally was her main client and she often traveled to his numerous business interests around the world to put on seminars for his executives.
Clint was doing manual labor at the sanctuary when Lori arrived, “Warren said you’d be expecting me.”
Clint put down the shovel and greeted the attractive personable woman, “I was.”
“Let’s take a walk,” Lori suggested, “I’ve read up on you, but I’d like to get my own impressions.
A dozen dogs were running free in the exercise yard. Clint suggested, “I’ll put the dogs up and then I’ll be ready.”
Lori countered, “I love dogs, let them run free.”
As Clint and Lori walked the perimeter of the 10-acre sanctuary, the dogs played around them. They made small talk, basically discussing Clint’s work with the non-profits. At the end of their walk, Clint commented, “Am I a lost cause?”
Lori smiled, “I was actually thinking this might be my easiest assignment.”
It was decided that when Clint started giving campaign speeches, he would keep it simple and interact with the audience as much as possible. During his first press conference, a reporter inquired, “What’s your position on global warming?”
“There are conflicting opinions by experts, but I think that we can do things slowly to make a difference. Instead of going directly to the electric car, maybe transition through hybrid vehicles first. Maybe get the auto manufacturers to develop some natural gas and hydrogen cars. I would also commission a study of safe nuclear power. Bill Gates has been working on this for years. His system eliminates the need for reprocessing, which in turn reduces proliferation concerns. It also lowers the overall cost of the fuel cycle and helps protect the environment by the use of waste by-products. Then I would have to convince China and India to reduce their carbon footprints since they are the biggest polluters in the world.” Clint stated.
As time progressed, a biased media never relented on trying to trip Clint up, but he was always up to the challenge. A reporter inquired, “The country has done a lot of bad things throughout history, do you agree with that statement?”
“I do not agree. Everything wrong that has ever happened in this nation by its inception to this moment in time can be tracked down to the decisions made by bureaucrats and elected officials in the government. Not once has our constitution and its principles failed its citizens. It is important to make the distinction between country and government,” Clint said emphatically, “Next question.”
Warren McNally approached Clint before a rally in Oceanside, California, “Have you thought about who you would like for a Vice President?”
“Not for a second,” Clint responded without hesitation.
Over the next few days, Clint contemplated who he thought might be a good running mate. One person came to mind, whether they would be interested would be the question. When he came to Warren McNally with the name, Warren said, “Do you want to make contact or should I?”
“I’ll do it,” Clint answered.
Gina Garcia was a Navy nurse when Clint was on active duty. After her discharge from the military she attended the Physician Assistant School and after receiving her degree, she began working with several doctors in Sand Point, Idaho. When Clint called her, she was pleasantly surprised to hear his voice, “Clint Lattimore! I’ve been following your new political career with great interest. It’s good to hear your voice, it’s been a while.”
“Yours too, I want to run something by you. Feel free to say no, but I figured I start at the top and work my way down. You are one of the most ambitious, organized and efficient people that I’ve ever known.”
“Thank you for saying so,” Gina responded, “What’s your question?”
“How would you like to be my vice-president?”
“You’re jokin’ right?” Gina responded.
“My campaign is only going to run six months. There’s no chance that I’m going to be elected.”
“Why waste your time if you’re not trying to win?” Gina inquired.
“It’s a little complicated. Would you talk to an associate of mine? He’ll explain it to you like he did to me and maybe it will make more sense.”
Warren McNally was as equally persuasive and almost as generous with his money. A five million dollar donation to the community clinic in Sagle, Idaho where Gina volunteered her medical services convinced her to sign on. Another series of campaign ads with Clint and Gina filled the airwaves and the social media websites. It never occurred to Clint that picking a Hispanic woman was the politically correct thing to do. He chose Gina Garcia because she was the best qualified person.
It was October 3rd and only 30 days away from the election. When Clint looked over the next campaign ads, he voiced his discontent, “Sorry I can’t do these.”
Warren asked, “What’s wrong?”
“I told you in the beginning that I won’t do negative ads,” Clint reminded his benefactor.
“That you did, just checking to see if you had changed your mind,” Warren turned to his media consultant, “Change the ads.”
It was now only one week before the election and the Democratic and Republican parties had been falling dramatically in the polls. They decided that they had nothing to lose by going after Clint Lattimore.
Democratic Candidate John Bowden said, “I have heard from anonymous sources that Clint Lattimore was responsible for war atrocities during his time in special operations. If these reports are true, then Lattimore should withdraw from the race immediately!”
Republican Candidate Dwight Rickland, “The FBI is reviewing complaints of misconduct and fraud at the clinic where Gina Garcia works. They are considering opening an investigation.”
When questioned by a reporter about these two statements, “Do you have any comments on these stories?”
Clint smiled, “Tell them to prove it.”
Another reporter chimed in, “You haven’t made any statements about the other candidates. Now would be a good time to break that rule.”
“My very existence is probably an offense to some people. I am pro-military, pro–law enforcement and pro-America. My position has not changed since I began my campaign and I see no reason to divert off course now. My opponents have their platform and if attacking me and my running mate is part of their strategy, then so be it. The American voters will let them know if they made the right choice.”
November 3rd came and Clint and Gina figured that by tomorrow they would be back at their regular jobs. Their campaigning was over and their agreement with Warren McNally was completed. It had been an interesting six months and while Clint would never admit it, there were moments, far and few between, that he actually enjoyed himself. While the campaign staff and his running mate watched the exit polls and the results, Clint went into the back room of the campaign headquarters and shut off the lights. He sat down in a recliner and leaned back. Clint had been asleep for almost four hours when he heard yelling coming from the main room. Suddenly the door burst open and the lights went on. Gina exclaimed “You won!”
When Clint entered the main room, people were jumping around and throwing confetti into the air. He saw the caption on the television screen, Clint Lattimore Projected Winner. Clint walked over to Warren McNally and said, “You thought this might happen, you are one sly fox.”
Warren McNally smiled deviously, “I thought it was a longshot, but a possibility.”
“I never expected it to go this far. What do I do now?”
“Don’t worry, you’ll rise to challenge,” Warren McNally.
Indeed he did, Clint hit the ground running as soon as he was sworn in. He brought in people that he had served with in special operations to be part of his administration. Even though Warren McNally took no official position in the Lattimore team, he became Clint’s trusted advisor.
President Lattimore began receiving top secret briefings on a daily basis and came to realize that he was in a unique position to do something about problems in the world that nobody else could. He was the commander-in-chief, but decided it was still best if he operated covertly. With his trusted team, Clint began to incorporate military missions with official visits. He eliminated an Albanian child trafficking ring while working on a trade agreement in the region. While in Mexico, he commanded a team that killed an infamous drug cartel leader, who was responsible for the death of five American tourists in Sayulita.
Warren McNally knew that the President of the United States running military operations was so implausible that most Americans would never believe it even if somebody did report it. He also knew that trying to talk Clint out of his extracurricular activities was a futile endeavor. “If I can’t talk you out of doing this, then I’ll do my best to keep up with you.”
Clint used the same line as Warren said to him, a year earlier, “Thank you sir, like a wise man once told me, you’ll rise to the challenge.”
Clint was a man of action and found the daily grind of politics extremely boring, but lucky for him, Vice President Gina Garcia was adept at dealing with Congress and the numerous federal agencies. President Lattimore enjoyed visiting the military because it was an opportunity to be back in his element. He would run the obstacle course with the troops, rappel out of the helicopter or do a parachute jump. When warned that his actions were too risky for a Commander-in-Chief, Clint shrugged, “Any man who is too afraid of dying is too afraid to live. I have full confidence in the Vice President to step right in if something happens.”
When he was in the White House, Clint spent a lot of time in the fitness center working out with members of his cabinet and the secret service when he wasn’t involved in meetings. Of course, not every mission took place overseas. When he was in the states, President Lattimore and his vigilante cabinet would use the secret escape tunnel under the White House to deal with issues within the borders of the United States.
It had been a prosperous four years for the US economy. There were no new wars and significant progress had been made with the issues of global warming, immigration and health care. Clint was pressured to run for another term, but declined. “It’s time for me to move on.” He gave his full endorsement to Vice President Gina Garcia, but there was still some unfinished business to take care of, such as the matter of the individuals who attempted to kill him four years earlier. This would be the last unofficial act of President Lattimore and his vigilante cabinet. The disappearance of the conspirators would become one of history’s great unsolved mysteries.
Clint was content to go back to his non-profit organizations and pick up where he left off. There was one difference, though. He had a detachment of secret service agents following him around. When he received a phone call from newly elected President Gina Garcia, “Just in case, you’re getting a little bored in California. I have something you’ll be interested in.”
“I serve at the pleasure of the President,” Clint replied.
End Part Two