Saul Jaffe, who sells van supplies, has no truck with Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy, John Anderson or Ronald Reagan. His man is David Stancil.
Stancil, for the uninformed, is a tobacco-chewing North Carolina service station attendant, who is running for president on the slogan, "It's Not What's the Party, It's Where's the Party?"
"I think he'd be as good as anybody else running now, and some people even think he'd be better," said Jaffe.
Jaffe's comments reflect the thoughts of many in the small Northern Virginia shopping center where he works and where the current political front-runners are as popular as a cop at a drag strip.
Stancil's face, in all its double-chin, beard-stubble glory, graces the slick campaign poster Jaffe has hung in the window of his van shop at Alexandria's Pickett Street Plaza.
Touting Stancil's candidacy from behind the shop's counter, Jaffe thinks his man's chief attraction is that he's no less "a joke" than any of his better known opponents.
"Out of all the people who might be qualified to be president, that's all we've got?" asked Jaffe.
Virginia, unlike Maryland and the District of Columbia, does not have a primary to enliven this election year. Most of its Democratic and republican convention delegates already are lined up behind Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, respectively.
Interviewed just before the attempt to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran, many of the Plaza's merchants and employes repeatedly criticized Carter for his handling of the nation's economic and international problems. The rescue effort elicited sympathy for the president, but no whole-hearted endorsement for his reelection.
"I'm mad at all of them," said Julie Anne Crowe, a bartender at the Plaza's Villa Capri restaurant. Underscoring her indifference, she ticked off her reasons for feeling uneasy about all the major presidential choices.
"I liked Carter until he backed out of the Israeli statement at the UN," she said."Kennedy just doesn't give me good feelings, and I don't have much respect for Republicans."
Crowe would like to see Carter "stop trying to be such a good guy -- I wish I could talk to him. I've always had this fantasy of going to the UN and telling them to start talking about our similarities instead of our differences."
A bar customer broke into Crowe's reverie to suggest she start talking about "a pack of matches and an ashtray."
At the Minuteman Press, just a few doors away, Barbara Thrift counted herself as "probably Carter." She said she feared a Kennedy victory would be very expensive: "I don't want to pay for everybody's health care."
Steve Robb, who also works at the press and says he is a distant cousin of Lt. Gov. Charles S. Robb, says he won't be voting in November. "I'm 35 and I've never voted," he said, adding that he would vote if he ever found a candidate he liked.
"I'm going to vote for Reagan, but I don't think he's that good, just better than the others," said Clyde Thrall, manager of a Radio Shack outlet at the Plaza.
Leslie Freeman, an 80-year-old black who is an avowed Democrat, called Kennedy "a good man" and complained that Carter was the reason "the little bit of steak I bought the other day cost $4.05."
At the Contemporary Sounds stereo shop, Jim Rogers and Al Johnson got into an argument about Kennedy. Rogers said he won't vote for Kennedy under any circumstances and expects to sit out this election. Johnson countered that those who are "fed up" should vote for Kennedy -- "but that doesn't say much for Kennedy."
Back at The Van Place, Jaffe kept talking up Stancil, convincing co-worker Charlie Momsen and other "vanners" to jump on the Stancil bandwagon.
Though Jaffe confesses he has never actually met Stancil -- he picked up his campaign poster in Charlotte, N.C. -- he has become adept at inventing an imaginary biography for the candidate every time a curious customer asks about him.
Jaffe described his candidate as someone who would give "people the things they needed for a price they could afford."
"He's gonna sue you for slander," Momsen warned.
"Not if he's elected," Jaffe grinned.