April 1, 2007

Tommy Thompson Hits The Hustings

Add another entrant to the 2008 Republican Presidential Sweepstakes, and another Thompson. Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson has entered the primary race, declaring himself the "reliable conservative" in a race that has seen a few candidates claim that mantle:

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson on Sunday joined the crowded field of Republicans running for the White House in 2008 and proclaimed himself the "reliable conservative" in the race.

Thompson, who was health and human services secretary during President Bush's first term, also said he is the only GOP candidate who has helped assemble both a state and federal budget.

Since announcing last year he was forming a presidential exploratory committee to raise money and gauge support, Thompson has lagged behind better-known rivals.

Thompson, 65, has focused his strategy on Iowa, which holds the nation's first caucuses for presidential nominees. He has made weekly visits to the state and sought to make the case that it will take a candidate who can carry the Midwest to win the nomination.

Thompson has several built-in advantages. First, as a popular governor in the Upper Midwest, he will have plenty of pull in Iowa. A good start there -- perhaps a third-place finish would be enough -- could give him enough credibility to push into New Hampshire and the February 5th Super Tuesday.

Can THompson push his way into the top tier? Perhaps. Thompson could be the doppleganger for Bill Richardson in the Democratic race. He has plenty of executive and legislative experience, serving 14 years as Governor of our neighboring state. During that time, he championed school choice, a point which conservatives will love.

Thompson served four years as Secretary of Health and Human Services, not exactly known as a center of conservative thought, but he did some work that could allow him to lay claim to a broad swath of the electorate. Thompson pushed for increased organ donations -- obviously a topic of great interest for my family -- and he pushed to allow the government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical manufacturers in the Medicare expansion of 2003. He lost that battle, but has some credibility among centrists and independents on health care.

He has the best resume of any Republican in the race so far. With fourteen years of executive experience, he has more than Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney combined. He has a national presence, and his continuing popularity at home in a purple state cannot hurt him, either. John Kerry barely won Wisconsin in 2004, and Thompson won four gubernatorial elections there by wide margins. He has the CV to make a run at the top tier, if he can campaign effectively.

UPDATE: Michael Stickings has a very interesting rebuttal from the left on Thompson's chances at TMV. Here's a sample:

It is very likely that the Democrats will select a “celebrity” candidate, that is, a candidate with enormous name-recognition and national popularity: Obama, Clinton, Edwards, or perhaps (just perhaps) Gore. With this in mind, I cannot see the Republicans going into the ‘08 election with a non-celebrity candidate, even one, like Thompson, who has a great deal of experience and local/regional popularity. If presidential elections were about competency, then, yes, by all means, Thompson would be a leading Republican candidate, just as Richardson would be a leading Democratic one. But they’re not. They’re about image — about style, not substance. Even if Thompson manages to rise into the top tier, which is hardly likely, he is too lackluster a candidate, with too lackluster a personality, to secure the nomination. This isn’t fair, but it’s the way it is.

What’s more, Republicans rarely select non-celebrity candidates to run for the presidency. Think about it. Democrats have gone with non-celebrity candidates five times since World War II — Clinton in ‘92, Dukakis in ‘88, Carter in ‘76, Kennedy in ‘60, and Stevenson in ‘52 — but how many non-celebrity Republican candidates have there been during that span?

Be sure to read the whole post. Michael is one of the best writers on the Left, and this shows why.


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Comments (19)

Posted by Lew [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 12:30 PM

Somehow I can't see Tommy Thompson getting into a bare-knuckle brawl with Congress over the GWOT or out-of-control spending or anything else. Quite frankly, I'm completely unimpressed with another "uniter" that's going to charm his way to success with a Democrat Congress by "reaching out across the aisle" and "finding common ground".

Like I've said before, I'm looking for a cross between Milton Friedman and Andrew Jackson. Wake me up when one of those show's up!

Posted by reddog [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 1:08 PM

Thompson, like Richardson, is in the race, not as a serious contender but hoping to secure a Vice Presidential nomination.

These boys are easyriders. They like the limelight but not the pressure.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 1:31 PM

Okay. But Tommy Thompson (not Fred Thompson), doesn't really get "lift" the old-fashioned-way.

Because the primary system was so corrupt it put both the bush's in the white house. In those days? You won the prize IF you got New Hampshire.

And, you got New Hampshire in 1988 because then Governor Sununu "fixed" the voting to occur by computer; without a paper trial.

That's been tried. And, has made many Americans very angry! Likelihood of winning by computer fraud? Reduced. For now.

As to the "bigger change?" Leave it to an Austrian bodybuilder, to swing California into contention. And, Florida? Is trying to up-herself to January 29th. The primaries aren't "easy pickings" anymore.

Push calls? Won't have the same effect.

The "day before" news? Probably a loser's gambit. Which it was for Algore! Kerry got sunk much better by the Veteran's For Truth. And, the donks are still smarting over that sinking. (But for all we know it was like watching the Titanic go down. Because the donks thought they were going to be invincible.)

Congress is local.

It's like getting used to the Libby decision. Where the jurors are gone, now. And, nobody remembers all that much about them, and their deliberations.

Libby lost because the judge was an affirmative action hire; in DC. Where all of them are either on welfare. Or work for the government. Which is even worse welfare.

People think this stuff lasts and lasts.

But unlike the jeans in your closet; very few fashion fads actually last. Let alone when you let people in charge whose only claim to fame is their hormone differentials from normal stock.

Guliani is still the man to beat.

By the way, back in 1978, Reagan was the man to beat. The donks talked it into themselves that he was "too old." And, the Rockefeller republicans? They didn't see the population shift. Where democrats would go and vote for Reagan WITH ENTHUSIASM.

So far? Dunno if Guiliani can reach the Reagan altitude. There's no accounting for tastes.

But to most Americans? Let the europeans do whatever it is that floats their boats. And, the Mideast? Can war. Or not. As long as the only deaths occur to variations of arabs. It's a death cult. Or what you get when you get involved with the crazies who dwell in Saudi Arabia.

Sure. There's competition. And, in spite of all the talk, groups who don't get along with one another, even though they find themselves "under one flag."

You think iran is easy to run? Hardly likely. To start with, they're not arabs. Though they have segments living among them who are!

Iraq? It may yet emerge as a democracy. At least they may well end up better off than the egyptian and jordanians. It's sort of like a ride in Disneyland. Where there should be signs warning you to "hold onto your hats."

America is not looking to be a big gun.

Ditto for Israel.

While this lesson has not sunk in on the Lebanese; "halping" the lunatics of islam is not a game plan. While, yes. They'll go on killing each other. Why? They've got the guns. And, the mentality to shoot at their own neighbors. While france was given the baton to be the maestro. The "gift" of the weak players. Who have yet to find a successful instrument to play.

Um, why would Guiliani pick a Thompson? Or Hillary pick Richardson?

At least there's the law of ego's. Where IF the man on top has one that's big enough. He fills the stage. And, the veep can go spit into a bucket. A tired and lame horse gets chosen? Why? This isn't the olympics. No silvers. No bronzes. No brass balls.

On the other hand? What would be funny? If GUiliani was insane enough to choose Schwartzenegger! (Can't. Because Schwartzenegger can't ever be president. Not without changing the Constitution.)

But I do expect Guiliani picking someone whose name catches some of the limelight.

Just getting the nomination in 2008 won't be enough. It has to be a real big deal, attracting lots of voters. And, after Bush? There's lots of angry people out there! Heck, Guiliani could pick Patraeus!) That's a two-fer.

Posted by Karen [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 1:57 PM

I still prefer Fred Thompson. I don't think anyone outside of Wisconsin would even know Tommy Thompson.

Posted by conservative democrat [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 2:28 PM

Speaking as a proud Wisconsinite, Tommy was loved in this state,across party lines I might add. Probably won't go far but his welfare reform was adopted across the nation. Sound ,sensible, and intelligent, everything were missing in the oval office today.

Posted by Dailytakes [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 3:07 PM

Tommy built up an impressive array of innovative, conservative policy accomplishments while Wisconsin Governor: http://www.dailytakes.com/index.php?s=tommy+thompson+for+president%3F&Submit=search

Posted by Cindy [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 4:43 PM

Capt - one thing to remember is that Thompson was a Republican governor of a very liberal state. As a resident of Minnesota you should know what that means. Thompson is an Arnie Carlson Tim Pawlenty type conservative. While that will get some bones thrown your way, the minute the going gets tough (with a Democratically controlled congress) he will fold.

Yes he managed to get a couple of watered down conservative issues passed (welfare reform and vouchers for the poor in Milwaukee ONLY) but he is, at best, a VP prospect.


Posted by patrick neid [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 6:40 PM

another zero chance candidate........unbelievable that some folks will actually donate money.....

Posted by pst314 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 7:05 PM

On the other hand, I was pretty unhappy with the stadium deal and his "stick it to Milwaukee taxpayers" ploy to get people to vote for it.

Posted by starfleet_dude [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 7:32 PM

Announcing this on April 1st is not the sort of omen that bodes well for his chances! Tommy Thompson passed up a chance to run for Herb Kohl's Senate seat this past election, and I can't help but feel this is a sort of farewell to politics for him more than a genuine run for the Presidency.

FYI Ed, as a native Iowan who moved to Wisconsin 14 years ago, Tommy isn't that well known to Iowans, nor is Pawlenty for that matter. Ask yourself - who is Iowa's governor? No fair googling it up either... :-)

Posted by Captain Ed [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 7:43 PM

Tom Vilsack. He just dropped out of the presidential race, and Hillary paid his bills. Too easy! ;-)

Posted by starfleet_dude [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 8:13 PM

Bzzzzzt! Sorry Ed, it's Chet Culver who's the governor of Iowa now. (First Democrat ever elected in Iowa following another Democratic governor in office, BTW.) I know, it's a bit of a trick question since he was just elected to the office last fall. It does however serve as a bit of a caution against people knowing or caring much about other state's politicians. Tom Vilsack was very successful as a Democrat in Iowa, but that really hasn't made him a household name, except as a joke involving AFLAC on The Daily Show.

Posted by Captain Ed [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 8:29 PM

It's a fair cop!

Posted by Tom Holsinger [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 8:35 PM

Thompson has less chance than Hagel. Hagel has a reputation. Thompson is a nobody. To the extent people remember anything about Thompson, it is his wretched performance during the anthrax attacks. Which was so bad it was funny.

Sure Thompson relied on the experts, and they lied to him. Tough. Nobody knows him and, when reminded of his one nationwide performance, they'll run screaming to Giuliani.

Posted by Ex Midwesterner [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 10:04 PM

Nobody? Yes, he is a nobody who launched welfare reform. School choice. And - like it or not - is widely credited with getting Medicare Part D through Congress. And more than 80 percent of seniors are happy with their prescription drug benefit. Yes, that's nothing from a nobody.

As for comparing him to Hagel (or any other Senator), I point to what George Will said about him this morning:

George Will: Iowa or bust makes more sense – not less – now that everyone is going to vote by February 5. Since no one can campaign everywhere – there won’t be enough money to do that or time – you can get a bigger slingshot effect perhaps out of Iowa. Tommy Thompson has actually run something larger than a Senate office: He’s run HHS and he’s run a state. He is associated with the great domestic policy success of the 1990s, which began in Wisconsin, welfare reform.

Posted by Tom Holsinger [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 1, 2007 10:34 PM


He has zero name recognition. Hagel at least has some - it's just unfavorable.

There is a Thompson who has name recognition here, and it ain't your guy.

The term "in your dreams" comes to mind.

Posted by Adjoran [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 2, 2007 1:17 AM

Oh, boy! Just what we needed - another candidate!

I count a couple of dozen declared, "exploring," or prominently waiting in the wings between the two parties. And yet, some people still whine that we don't have enough "choice," as if adding a few more less-than-1%-ers to the ballot makes some sort of difference.

Posted by Laddy [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 2, 2007 7:22 AM

Tommy T. is not an inspiring speech giver which pretty much knocks him out of the running in my opinion. I'm more interested in Fred T as a possibility.

Posted by Hustla [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 2, 2007 11:00 PM

Michael Stickings is right when he says it's about 'celebrity' and whether you like Guiliani or not because he's not conservative enough, he is the biggest celebrity outside of Fred Thompson who might not run as the field starts to get crowded..