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Back to the Golden Age of Politics

Behind the Scenes on the Whistle-Stop Tour

There was a sort of golden age in American history not too long ago when presidential candidates would load up their staff and travel the country by train.

There's that classic black-and-white photo of the candidate, arms raised as he shouts out a speech to as many people as can hear him, projecting from the very back of a flag-draped train.

No sound bites. No stadium-size conventions. It was a genuine way to get to the people, and even if the candidates were less than genuine, the people could look them in the eye when they asked the candidates how they would help.

While town hall meetings still abound, the Whistle-Stop Tour is a rare occasion these days.

But "Good Morning America" is bringing it all back, and to do so took some impressive engineering. Just walking from one end of the train to the other is like traveling through time.

Of the 11-car train, two of the middle cars have been specially modified to house a rail-bound television studio. Lining the walls of the Stars and Stripes decorated cars are a mass of monitors covering every possible camera angle of the train, and even two domes have been carved out of the roof to allow for satellite communication equipment.

Helicopters trail the train, sometimes three at a time, both to get dramatic shots of the speeding locomotive and to provide communication boosts when necessary.

But far more breathtaking than the electronic wizardry are the last two cars, the antique Warrior Ridge and PRR-120 cars.

The Warrior Ridge, the "Lounge Buffet Car," was built in 1953 and has not lost even an edge of that polished steel class. The interior was decorated in the style New Orleans Bourbon Street -- think cool jazz, leather and brass, not spring break.

The PRR-120 is the car with history, though. The train has carried both foreign dignitaries and American icons. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Juan and Eva Peron rode in this car. The entire Kennedy family, including President Kennedy, also graced the leather seats. In a more somber moment, the car was used to transport the body of Robert F. Kennedy to his burial at Arlington National Cemetary. More recently, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall rode in the car.

With as much history as these cars bring along for the ride, it's only appropriate that "Good Morning America" make a little history of its own on this extraordinary trip.

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