Sen. Lamar Alexander’s Office Tour — With Framed Flannel

May 19, 2010 6:00am

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf reports: Off the marble hallways in Capitol Hill, office buildings are a lot of staid reception areas crammed with photos from a politician’s time in Washington. But not Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. With the help of The Museum of Appalachia, Alexander has brought a little hardscrabble Tennesee mountain life to Capitol Hill with him. Rather than wallpaper or paint, the walls are paneled in distressed wood and adorned with examples of Appalachian tools — everything from a fly shoo to a gourd dipper to a calf weaner and a matchstick guitar. There is one prominent relic that Alexander cherishes. He is the journeyman politician famous for walking across Tennessee, dressed in a red flannel shirt and sleeping in the homes of supporters along the way. It worked for him in the 1978 Tennessee governor’s race, but not in the 1996 presidential contest. A red flannel shirt that Alexander said he got from the back of a volunteer now hangs above the receptionist, on loan from the Smithsonian. The checked shirt is Alexander’s trademark and he is seen in it on the cover of his 1995 book “We Know What to Do: A Political Maverick Talks with America.” And there is a lesson for politicians, he said, in the shirt and his office: “They’ll know when you’ve gone native,” he said of Tennesseeans generally, and the anti-incumbent mood in the nation as a whole.

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