May 31, 2007


Thompson wants to be 2008's outsider (Susan Page, 5/31/07, USA TODAY)

Politician-turned-actor Fred Thompson has been coy with audiences as he flirts with a bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

In an interview with USA TODAY, however, the former Tennessee senator not only makes it clear that he plans to run, he describes how he aims to do it. He's planning a campaign that will use blogs, video posts and other Internet innovations to reach voters repelled by politics-as-usual in both parties.

"I can't remember exactly the point that I said, 'I'm going to do this,' " Thompson says, his 6-foot, 6-inch frame sprawled comfortably across a couch in a hotel suite. "But when I did, the thing that occurred to me: 'I'm going to tell people that I am thinking about it and see what kind of reaction I get to it.' "

His late start carries some problems but also "certain advantages," he says. "Nobody has maxed out to me" in contributions, he notes, and using the Internet already "has allowed me to be in the hunt, so to speak, without spending a dime."

Which is why, if he's serious about winning, he should just stay out of the official race until the fall and then concentrate on SC and after. The only reason to get in now is to organize in IA and NH, which is a waste of his resouces and energy since he can't catch up to McCain in either. After Maverick wins the first two, Mr. Thompson becomes the default "Stop McCain" candidate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 31, 2007 7:40 AM

McCain isn't winning IA or NH. Except for the ARG poll he is in 3rd or 4th place in every other poll. The GOP base doesn't like him and the recent immigration bill flap has hurt his standing with the base even more. His only strength is that he is perceived to be able to beat Hillary which will fade over time.

Posted by: AWW at May 31, 2007 7:57 AM

Thompson is in the catbird seat here. He has his pick of any target, and Rudy is probably the juiciest, as his numbers will only go down the more people know about him.

OJ may be overly optimistic about McCain, but he is clearly the man to beat. Fred's best best is to go after everyone else and, as OJ said, become the "Stop McCain" candidate.

In the short run, his entry may even assist McCain. OTOH OJ, you gotta admit that if Fred wins either Iowa or NH, everyone else is just toast.

Now if only Gore wins the Dem side, 2008 will be glorious.

Posted by: Bruno at May 31, 2007 8:18 AM

While I'm not scared of any Democratic candidate currently on the radar, I don't expect Gore to be the nominee. We COULDN'T be that lucky.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at May 31, 2007 9:29 AM

Does it really matter who the GOP nominee is? Hillary is a stone cold lock for the Dem nomination, and she can't beat any of the GOP big 3 (Fred bumps Romney out, which is fine because Hillary might be able to beat Mitt) in the general.

Posted by: b at May 31, 2007 11:05 AM

Thompson is the "Stop McCain" candidate. He'll draw chiefly from McCain supporters. He needs to drive McCain out of the race early and take his donors and staff.

Posted by: pj at May 31, 2007 12:04 PM

The GOP base is immaterial to IA and NH.

Posted by: oj at May 31, 2007 12:12 PM

Was it Hewitt who thinks Maverick's out by the end of fall????

Maverick's going to need the independent vote.

Posted by: Sandy P at May 31, 2007 3:21 PM

Except that he doesn't. He draws from Giuliani in the polls that have been done. Predictable since both are essentially ciphers.

Posted by: oj at May 31, 2007 4:15 PM


Dean Barnett predicted McCain's withdrawal by August 31. I think that's a bit free-spirited, but McCain has chosen a particularly emotional issue to fight over.

We keep reading here (and elsewhere) about the coming fractures in the Democratic party - for example, when 25% of the black vote swings Republican, or 50% of the Hispanic vote goes GOP, or the trend against abortion on demand grows a bit stronger. But it hasn't happened. Even the economic juice of the past 4 years hasn't kept the Dems from going socialist, although their Congressional rookies toned it down last fall.

But the immigration bill and its fantasy of security promises could just fracture the GOP. How about 42 Senators instead of 49 (and just 4 years after having 55)? No wonder Schumer and Kennedy are dancing.

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 31, 2007 6:37 PM

He has it, especially in NH.

Posted by: oj at May 31, 2007 7:00 PM

A GOP predicated on racism would be worth breaking, but like all merely emotional issues immigration will fade into the background again after the next amnesty.

Posted by: oj at May 31, 2007 8:56 PM

Several stories today about McCain staffers jumping ship in SC. That's not the sign of a campaign that is doing well.

Posted by: AWW at May 31, 2007 9:42 PM