Day In The Life Of Max Sandlin

It's 8 in the morning. We've arrived at Max Sandlin's Congressional Office in Marshall. Getting ready for a packed day: six events in six cities.

"We're up early and out late," Sandlin, the Democratic incumbent, said. "You know, that's part of the job. During the week, I'm in Washington. On the weekends, I fly home every single weekend."

But Sandlin's got his coffee, though he usually prefers Diet Dr. Pepper.

"You can't beat a good slice of cold pizza in the morning with extra cheese with a pool of Tabasco on top and some Diet Dr. Pepper," he said. "That's a real breakfast of champions."

Sounds yummy.

Well, it's time to hit the road, with the help of special assistant and driver, Steven Bollinger. We're heading to the Harrison County Courthouse, where Sandlin was formerly the county judge and court-at-law judge.

The theme of the day is Social Security and Medicare.

"Our district has the highest age of any district in Texas," Sandlin said. "So issues concerning Social Security and Medicare, access to prescription drugs, those sorts of issues are critically important."

That means Sandlin will be making pretty much the same speech over and over and over again. But that doesn't mean the day will be boring.

First, meet the so-called "other half of the Max caucus". Max Richtman came all the way from Washington, D.C. to support Max Sandlin and follow him all day long. Richtman is the executive vice president of an organization with a long name and membership list: the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

It's now 8:30 a.m.

"So it's good to be here with you this morning," Sandlin tells a courtroom full of former co-workers. "It brings back a lot of good memories to be in this courtroom and to be among friends like you."

Soon after, Sandlin riled up his audience, denouncing the recent prescription drug bill that passed in Congress. He said the Republicans deliberately waited until the middle of the night to vote on a bill they were embarrassed about.

"If you are up at 3 in the morning in Marshall, Texas, watching us on C-SPAN, you need to get a life," he said. "You've got problems that prescription drugs can't cure."

The Maxes had a lot to say, and their audience had their fair share of questions.

Finally, Sandlin said: "I've got to go. But thank y'all for coming. Thank y'all. 'Cause they're going to kill me. Thank y'all for coming."

9 a.m. Time to make the 2-hour drive to Lufkin. We arrive at 11 to speak to a group of seniors at the Lewis Toran Retirement Community. More harsh words against the drug discount card for seniors.

"It's nothing but a sham," Sandlin said. "It's a cruel hoax. It's a joke on our seniors. It's a slap in the face."

So Richtman wanted to give Sandlin a tool to "fight" for seniors: a pair of red boxing gloves.

There's no delay. We're out the door at 11:30, on the road to The Fredonica Hotel in Nacogdoches. The Maxes are supposed to meet with the local newspaper. But we've lost one of them.

"Is that him?" Sandlin asked. "I think that's him. Isn't that his bald head sticking up? Max? Maybe not."

After about 20 minutes, Max Richtman finally finds us. He got lost on the way from Lufkin. A quick interview and photo shoot with the Daily Sentinel, and we're off again. Another long drive, this time to Henderson.

At a quarter 'til 2, we're at Aunt B's Adult Activity Center. The stop is really quick.

"Hey, young lady, how are you?" Sandlin greeted a senior. "Good to see you. You doing all right?"

By 2 p.m., we're out of there. And 45 minutes later, we're in Longview at the Erskine & McMahon Law Firm. Remember those red gloves?

"He talks in the ad about fighting for seniors and fighting for children and working families, and I thought he might need a little help," Richtman said, as he handed the gloves to Sandlin once again.

Sandlin laughs: "All right!"

A half-hour stop, and we're back on the road, all the way to Tyler at 4:30 in the afternoon.

The Woman's Building is the final stop of the day, where once again...

"You're going to need a little extra help," Richtman presents the gloves to Sandlin for the last time, and this time, Sandlin puts them on.

Well, it's the end of another busy day and a successful one, Sandlin says.

"In some respects, the district has expanded greatly because I have my old district to represent," Sandlin. "And many people in the new district ask me for help already. So I'm trying to help them, and in addition to that, I have to campaign in the new district."

It's 5 p.m. Time to go home. It all starts again tomorrow morning with another slice of cold pizza.

Sandlin says he usually stays up until 1 or 2 in the morning and gets up at about 5. He often skips meals and runs on snacks and, of course, Diet Dr. Pepper.

Julie Tam, reporting.