March 15, 2007


Fred Thompson in 2008? (William Rusher, March 15, 2007, Sacramento Bee)

The battle for the Republican presidential nomination underwent a major transformation last weekend when Fred Thompson told Chris Wallace of the Fox News Channel that he is considering entering the race. This is no minor development. Bob Beckel, Clinton's longtime press secretary and now a Democratic commentator for Fox, promptly asserted that Thompson is the only possible Republican contender "who scares me," and he is right to worry.

Thompson first attracted national notice as the Republican minority counsel in Congress's investigation of the Watergate scandal.

Television viewers liked the imperturbable figure they saw, and parts in various Hollywood movies came Thompson's way. Then, in 1994, Thompson was elected to the U.S. Senate in a landslide to fill the remainder of Al Gore's term, which Gore had vacated on his election as vice president in 1992. Thompson was elected to a full term in 1996, and served as chairman of the Senate's Governmental Affairs Committee.

In 2002, Thompson's prospects for re-election were rosy but, perhaps understandably, he opted to retire from the Senate and earn substantially more money for himself and his family as an actor. He was promptly snapped up by the wildly popular television series "Law & Order," which cast him as the wise and avuncular district attorney who oversaw its criminal prosecutions.

And recently, the Bush Justice Department enlisted him to accompany Supreme Court nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito on their visits to key senators when their nominations were up for ratification. The counsel of a shrewd former senator was judged of high value to the nominees.

Thompson has not yet officially thrown his hat into the 2008 ring, but his statement to Fox News was clearly intended to call attention to the possibility, and test the waters.

It is a major development because Thompson has so many undeniable qualifications for the nomination. First and foremost, he is a true-blue conservative, comfortable with all the positions on social issues (abortion, gay rights, gun control, etc.) that give Rudy Giuliani so much difficulty and that have inspired John McCain and Mitt Romney to "flip-flop" in recent years to curry favor with social conservatives. In the second place, he is (as his television career demonstrates) an immensely attractive personality at 64, with a rumpled and thoughtful charm. Thirdly, his service for eight years in the U.S. Senate (four times Barack Obama's current tenure) attests to his success as a political leader. And finally, he hails from a border state -- Tennessee -- with all that implies for electability in the South and elsewhere.

Actually, the Hollywood story is even better than that. His first role was playing himself in Marie, about the corruption case where he helped bring down the governor of TN. You could hardly ask for a better storyline with all the humturum about campaign finances and whatnot.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 15, 2007 7:26 AM

No doubt will attract some Republican voters who had a good experience with another former actor and some Independents and moderate Democrats who will confuse the television character with the real thing.

Posted by: Rick T. at March 15, 2007 10:29 AM

Whatever happened to "it's a hierarchical party and McCain is next in line so he gets the nomination"?

Meanwhile, McCain's in a dead heat with Rudy in NH, tho one state you'd think he'd have sewn up. . .

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 15, 2007 10:30 AM

One wonders if William Rusher, Orin Judd and countless others have EVER changed their minds on anything. Perhaps you all have the exact same positions that you were born with? If that is not the case, then it is highly disengenious of you to continue to call Mitt Romney a "flip-flopper". John Kerry was a flip-flopper because he changed his positions from week to week and debate to debate. I find it highly insulting that so many of you are trying to now pin that same label on Mitt Romney - a man of outstanding character. And yet I hear no mention of his many positive atttributes. Biased.

Posted by: David Glick at March 15, 2007 12:34 PM

Mitt cuts his cloth to fit the fashion of the electorate he's facing. That's fine on merely political questions, but not moral ones.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2007 1:35 PM


McCain will win. Thompson is a non-starter in IOA and NH so would have to win SC, where McCain is building a firewall. Thompson would be a better president.

NYers and MAers have huge advantages in NH because we get their media and their emigrants.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2007 1:40 PM