Truckers For Yang

Fred the Trucker Says He Is, in Fact, Friends With Andrew Yang

Excerpt from New York Time's On Politics -

Our colleague Matt Stevens explains:

First, a bit of back story. At Tuesday night’s debate, moderators asked the Democratic presidential candidates about a friendship that might surprise people. Andrew Yang said he’d befriended a trucker and former Trump supporter named Fred.

The two men drove around in Fred’s truck for hours, Mr. Yang said, and eventually, Fred came around to support Mr. Yang for the nomination.

My colleagues — and probably more than a few people watching at home — were skeptical about this “Fred.” Was Fred about as real as Pierre Delecto?

“Who will interview Fred?” your newsletter host, Ms. Lerer, wrote in our live chat during the debate. “Find Fred!”

Well, it turns out Fred found us. And I interviewed him — first briefly by phone and then later with questions we sent by email at his request. (Fred wanted to coordinate with the communications director for the group “Truckers for Yang.” More on that later.)

Fred — his full name is Fred Ramey — told me that he “had a rough background as a kid” and at one point spent time in prison. Now he coaches felons and drug addicts.

Mr. Ramey, 43, of Maricopa, Ariz., said he was put in touch with Mr. Yang earlier this year by a friend who was also a trucker, and at first he resisted the idea of driving around with a politician. Then he listened to Mr. Yang discuss the threat of automation, which Mr. Yang says could put millions of truckers out of work. He came to like him. But he still worried about whether he could support a Democrat.

“Then I had this moment of clarity,” Mr. Ramey said. “I either need to live my values or get new ones.”

So they got in the truck. And Mr. Ramey said he “tried to do everything I could to offend” Mr. Yang. He pressed the candidate on whether he would “pander.” Did Mr. Yang even know what he was getting himself into?

“He took every negative I threw at him and turned it into a positive,” Mr. Ramey said. “I just needed to know that the candidate I now 100 percent believe in is a real person with real solutions for America.”

Mr. Yang, he added later, “connects with people who feel like they don’t matter or count.”

Now, Mr. Ramey said, he talks with Mr. Yang almost every week. He has become involved with the group “Truckers for Yang,” which recently put its first 53-foot custom-wrapped tractor-trailer on the road.

Mr. Ramey watched Tuesday’s debate, and he said he knew Mr. Yang would find a way to mention truckers.

But he appears unfazed by being thrust in the spotlight.

“There’s no real fame,” he said. “I’ve always just wanted to get Andrew in office, and it’s going to happen.”

photo credit: Andrew Yang Campaign