March 19, 2007


Thompson Could Fill the Missing Slot (Peter Brown, 3/19/07, Real Clear Politics)

He could run as a common sense Washington outsider with Ronald Reagan-class communications skills, Thompson's name recognition is still limited, but his celebrity means his face recognition is unusually high and very favorable. [...]

Thompson's backers argue there are similarities to Reagan, some superficial, others and more tangible, from the days when the idea an actor running for president was often mocked.

Both entered politics late in life after other careers in the movies and television in which they were able to burnish their conservative credentials. Thompson, currently the co-star of the TV'st Law and Order, almost always plays principled, decisive authority figures - the exact image Americans look for in a president.

Both had to be coaxed to run for office, and even admirers concede neither man has the fire in the belly to be president that has generally been required.

Thompson's candidacy is intriguing to some because of his potential to appeal to independents and moderate Democrats, like McCain and Giuliani. But unlike they, his background and charisma could fire up the GOP base, which is searching for a champion. He'll get to audition for them in the coming weeks when he fills in for ABC Radio's Paul Harvey, whose show is a staple for conservatives.

It was the discipline of thinking out, writing and delivering thousands of speeches for GE, for himself, and for his radio addresses that made Ronald Reagan the most thoughtful of presidents. The radio gig would be ideal preparation for Mr. Thompson.

Will Fred's old, red pickup ride again on presidential trail? (GAIL KERR, 3/19/07, Tennessean)

If Fred Thompson decides to run for president, it's hard to imagine him driving to the Iowa caucus in anything but his famed red Chevy pickup truck -- the vehicle that became a colorful signature for his 1994 U.S. Senate campaign in Tennessee.

But whatever happened to the truck?

"I haven't seen the truck since the end of the campaign," said Tom Ingram, the political mastermind who had a hand in revamping Thompson's image by putting him behind the wheel of the truck.

As campaign icons go, it was a humdinger.

"I don't know who came up with the original idea," said Ron McMahan, a GOP insider who worked on the Senate race. "The campaign had no fire in it. Fred was doing lawyerese stuff. It's been written that Ingram came up with it. It's been written that I did. I do not know whose idea it was."

Ingram recalls a meeting with Thompson at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Cookeville: "He wasn't too happy with traditional campaigning. The conversation went something like this: I said, 'What would you do if you could do what you want to do?' He said, 'I'd go to my dad's used car lot (in Lawrenceburg) and get a truck and drive it across the state.' I said, 'Do it.' People thought he was crazy. It worked because it wasn't an unnatural or unreal thing for him to do."

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 19, 2007 7:41 AM

Does this mean you're no longer tossing Maverick's figurative salad?

Posted by: Bryan at March 19, 2007 10:11 AM

ouch, bryan. It's not quite that bad.

Let's see who is "perceived" as the conservative candidate in Nov-Dec 07. Actually McCain's biggest single negative will be his age, since you can't flip-flop on being 73. He can talk himself out of any other issue.

Posted by: h-man at March 19, 2007 10:49 AM

I think OJ has always been clear that McCain is not his candidate but he considers McCain to be the leading candidate based on the historic tendency of the GOP to nominate the perceived next in line.

Thompson ran in 2000 didn't he? My recollection is that he was a boring candidate, acting experience aside. Maybe he got better.

Posted by: Bob at March 19, 2007 12:15 PM

According to Wikipedia, Thompson was not a candidate in 2000. The candidates were Lamar Alexander, Gary Bauer, George W. Bush, Elizabeth Dole, Steve Forbes, Orrin Hatch, John Kasich, Alan Keyes, John McCain, Dan Quayle, and Robert C. Smith.

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 19, 2007 12:42 PM

Bob Beckel has been quoted as saying that Fred Thompson is the candidate the Dems should be most afraid of.

Although Rudy or McCain (as of today) might be more likely to win CA (dooming any Dem victory at the start), he's probably right. The GOP would probably rally more around Fred than either Rudy or McCain. And Thompson's ascent would give the Dems more reason to reject Hillary in favor of Edwards or Obama, which probably makes Beckel nervous.

Posted by: ratbert at March 19, 2007 1:06 PM

Nominating a non-southerner like any of the Big 2.5 will help Hillary finesse her being a northeastern liberal. A Thompson campaign brings back the ghosts of Dukakis and Kerry.

Posted by: Pete at March 19, 2007 1:32 PM

Well, I guess I confused Thompson with Alexander. Sorry.

I read today that Thompson was a big McCain-Feingold supporter. Why is that disqualifying for McCain but not Thompson among the internet right? Because MCain's name is on it?

Posted by: Bob at March 19, 2007 3:33 PM

Now is the time for the RKBA side to place the ax to the foot of every tree.* Let's start asking every candidate,in both parties, about the issue.
*Christianist code words. Mt 3:10

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 19, 2007 4:38 PM