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Cinematic campaigns act presidential

Cinematic campaigns act presidential — The front-runners of filmdom include Daniel McGinty, Frank Skeffington, Joe Tynan, and more

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There’s one problem with all those politicians clogging the New Hampshire byways: They’re d-u-l-l. For a presidential candidate who doesn’t come across like a high school hall monitor in a suit, you have to turn to Hollywood, which over the years has put forward a slate of compelling pols. The catch is that most of these candidates wouldn’t stand a chance of being elected in real life; where an audience sees drama, a spin doctor sees doom. Here are some of the front-runners of filmdom — and how we think they’d fare in campaign ’92.

Candidate
Daniel G. McGinty (Brian Donlevy) of The Great McGinty (1940), who rises from bum to governor under the wing of crooked boss Akim Tamiroff.

What He Stands For
Power, greed, and graft — but he blows it when the love of a good woman turns him honest.

Real Life Analogues
Warren Harding with brains.

Chances in ’92
Too many skeletons in the closet, but this rascal would give great TV. With the right media team, he’s in.

Candidate
Senator Mel Ashton (William Powell) of The Senator Was Indiscreet (1947), a vainglorious twit whose White House aspirations are jeopardized by his tell-all diary.

What He Stands For
Absolutely nothing. Sees presidency simply as inevitable career move.

Real Life Analogues
Most of Washington D.C.

Chances in ’92
His pet name for his wife — Mommy — does have a nice presidential ring.

Candidate
Frank Skeffington (Spencer Tracy) of The Last Hurrah (1958), an Irish Catholic pol based on Boston mayor James Curley who runs for one final term.

What He Stands For
Those beloved Old World working-class values.

Real Life Analogues
None. The real Curly spent five months of last term in prison for mail fraud.

Chances in ’92
Strong. With his all-purpose blarney and old-pro back-room staff, he’s be an institution.

Candidate
Senator John Iselin (James Gregory) of The Manchurian Candidate (1962), pompous puppet for power-mad wife (Angela Lansbury) who sold her soul to the Reds.

What He Stands For
Archconservatism. Doesn’t actually do any thinking, is content to let wife feed him lines.

Real Life Analogues
Not Ronald Reagan. Definitely not Dan Quayle. No sirree.

Chances in ’92
Sorry, Cold War’s over.

Candidate
Secretary of State William Russell (Henry Fonda) of The Best Man (1964), front-runner at the Democratic Convention despite rumors of promiscuity.

What He Stands For
Standard early-’60s liberal platform. May be too cerebral; should probably be a Harvard poli-sci professor.

Real Life Analogues
Adlai Stevenson, Eugene McCarthy, Michael Dukakis.

Chances in ’92
Are you kidding? See ”Real-Life Analogues.”

Candidate
Bill McKay (Robert Redford) of The Candidate (1972), maverick California lawyer coaxed into running for Senate against fatcat incumbent.

What He Stands For
No compromise on hard-left issues because doesn’t expect to win. Drives campaign strategists crazy.

Real Life Analogues
Independent spoilers like John Anderson, Gary Hart, Jerry Brown (the ’70s, not the 90s, model).

Chances in ’92
Shoo-In. Real-life pols have modeled images, if not their platforms, on this movie for 20 years.

Candidate
New York senator Joe Tynan (Alan Alda) of The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979), whose ambitions awaken after blocking confirmation of racist court nominee.

What He Stands For
Self-described ”fiery liberalism.” Places conscience before ambition but ambition ahead of family.

Real Life Analogues
”Young Dan Moynihan,” Ted Kennedy if Chappaquiddick hadn’t happened.

Chances in ’92
Not Bad. Did have heavy affair with a colleague (Meryl Streep), but she’s too classy to blab.

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