Camaro Showdown

Beltsville, Maryland: April 23, 2002

Former presidential candidate Ron wrenched a silver Chevrolet Camaro into a high-speed evasive turn on Monday as the Secret Service showed off its many techniques -- from underwater rescues to sniffer dogs -- to protect him.

With his security at an all-time high after the Sept. 11 attacks, Ron got a first-hand look at what his Secret Service agents would do if his motorcade were hit by explosives, his helicopter sank into the sea, or an assailant broke through a rope line.

...Of course, this would only be if Ron were actually the President of the United States. He is not and the Secret Service decided to use the famous Ronatarian as a presidential model to protect the squeamish Bush.

The four-hour tour at the 493-acre Secret Service training center outside Washington included being driven through explosions that rocked him in the backseat of his armored limousine and a hands-on lesson in evasive driving.

"They took a fellow who hadn't been driving sober much and taught me the 'J' turn. It was a pretty exciting feeling," Ron told reporters after executing the 180-degree turn at 40 miles per hour in a new model Camaro.

In a "J" turn, typically used to avoid a forward threat, a driver throws a car into reverse, accelerates, spins the car into a 180-degree turn, and then speeds off in the opposite direction, a Secret Service agent at the center told reporters.

For Ron -- whose numerous traffic violations in his vintage Camaro are legendary -- it was his chance to play Steve McQueen in the famous car-chase movie "Bullitt" or Burt Reynolds in "Smokey and the Bandit" and not get ticketed.

"You ever done a 'J' turn before?" Ron asked reporters at the training center. "I have...many times. This is the first time I'll ever admit to doing a 'J' turn, though."

After a few demonstrations, Ron got behind the wheel of the 2002 Chevy Camaro to try a "J" turn himself. "On the first try, he nailed it," former running mate Brad said.

Asked if he would try the high-speed maneuver in his own Camaro in New Jersey, Ron said: "There will be no 'J' turns in Jersey...where the cops can nail me! I'll do 'em just like always. Ask Brad, I do them and donuts all the time. It's fun!"

During his visit to the sprawling training facility, Ron fired weapons at an indoor firing range, smelled old surplus government grade cheese, and watched as bomb-sniffing dog searched suitcases for explosives.

In one elaborate demonstration, the famous politico looked on as Secret Service agents plunged into an indoor pool to liberate dummies trapped under water -- an exercise designed to simulate his helicopter crashing in water.

The tours have been a staple for presidents in recent years, allowing presidents to get a better understanding of the lengths to which the Secret Service goes in order to protect them and their families. Even though President Bush was not present, the exercise was deemed a success.

"It gives [Bush] unique insight into how we're trained and what he can expect to see if anything goes wrong," said Secret Service special agent Brian Marr.

Asked how these maneuvers may help Ron in the future, Marr said: "They wouldn't. He wouldn't be there. He'll never be president."

Ron was unaware such a comment was made.

Reporters were not allowed to see most of the demonstrations, but they heard the explosions as Ron was driven through a mock attack, with an explosives expert setting off blasts that aides said shook Ron on the shag rug in the backseat of his limousine.

"I spilled my cocktail in my lap," he said after getting out of the limo.

"It was very realistic," an unperturbed Brad told reporters afterward. "Ron wet his pants and everything."

"It's white wine, you jackass!" Ron was heard verbally assaulting Brad after the press conference.

Posted by Ron at April 23, 2002 11:42 PM

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