Born in Plant City, Florida, he grew up poor on a small farm with several siblings. He was drafted and served in the U.S. Army during World War I. When the war ended he attended law school and got involved in local Florida politics. He eventually rose through the political ranks becoming a Democrat Congressman representing his hometown and later U.S. Senator from Florida, where he was a well-respected politician. Payton later became involved in James K. Shea's bid for the Presidency and he became the Vice Presidential nominee. They won the election in 1960 and Payton became Vice President. Payton was friends with men such as Senator Pat Geary of Nevada, who he went with to Cuba in 1958 to bring in the New Year with Michael Corleone and his associates.
Once in power, the two men began to argue over Shea's nepotistic use of his young, inexperienced brother Daniel Shea as Attorney General. At this time Payton was favoured by many members of the Commission for President as he fell more into line with their demands, in particular Carlo Tramonti of New Orleans, who distrusted President Shea's former connections with the Corleone family, who he had become secretly at odds with, and his attempted deportation by the President's brother Danny.
When Shea was assassinated by Juan Carlos Santiago in 1964, Payton was told of Shea's assassination by his wife and wasn't entirely surprised. He then was sworn in as President of the United States. He left after serving only one term, due to a growing quagmire in Vietnam and lagging poll numbers. He was rarely seen in public after his presidency, and retired to his home in Coral Gables, Florida with his wife, where he died several years later.
Real life sources
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