May 31, 2007

Thompson Gets Serious

Up to now, Fred Thompson has brilliantly remained coy about his presidential ambitions -- to the point of exasperation among some of his would-be fans. Now, however, Fred has made clear that he intends to run, and in a USA Today interview, how he plans to do it:

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. ...

Thompson could reshape a GOP contest in which each of the three leaders has significant vulnerabilities and none of the seven second-tier contenders has broken through. Without formally joining the race — he's preparing to do that as early as the first week of July — Thompson already is placing third and better among Republican candidates in some national polls.

Dissatisfaction among one-third of Republicans with the 2008 field has opened the door for the candidate, whose folksy tone, actor's ease before an audience and conservative credentials drew comparisons to Ronald Reagan at the annual Connecticut GOP dinner here. Thompson addressed the dinner last week to a sold-out audience.

"People listen to him and see someone who's very comfortable with who he is and confident about what he believes in," state Republican chairman Chris Healy says. "That's a skill that, obviously, Ronald Reagan took to great heights."

That's the obvious attraction for Fred. He has the same kind of demeanor as Ronald Reagan, the same kind of presence, and it's probably not coincidence that both of them worked in Hollywood. However, where Reagan started in films, Thompson started in politics, and he has a long history as a reformer and an activist against corruption.

Earlier this week, I noted that Fred seemed to be staging a philosopher's campaign for the Presidency. Rather than declaring and then opining about issues on an individual basis, he has remained out of the fray, concentrating on issues to support the grander theme of federalism and smaller government. So far, that has worked, and he tells USA Today that his campaign themes will reflect that: "tighter borders, smaller government, lower taxes". While that's not exactly an unknown combination among present Republican presidential candidates, Fred bets that his consistency -- and his persona -- will lend greater credibility to his claim to those themes in the primary campaign.

He may be right, but he's going to have tough competition. Mitt Romney sounds those same themes, although the "smaller government" portion tends to get buried in discussions of health care, where Republicans tend to mistrust any mention of that issue as a stalking-horse for expansion of entitlements. Romney rejects that approach, but some Republican voters may remain wary. John McCain also hammers the same themes, but his record on the Bush tax cuts hurts. Rudy Giuliani also lays claim to those principles. So do Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Mike Huckabee, Sam Brownback, and Ron Paul takes them to the extreme.

It will take the next coming of Ronald Reagan to break out of the pack. Thompson will have to convince GOP voters that he gives the party the best opportunity to actually put those principles into action -- something that twelve years of GOP control over Congress and six over the White House didn't accomplish. Can he do that? Fred makes it clear that he will grasp the opportunity to convince us.


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Comments (23)

Posted by Papa Ray | May 31, 2007 8:06 AM

This morning, listening to the news on various programs on tv, I was reminded that the image of any political person is shaped first by the MSM.

The bias and efforts to undermine Fred Thompson was very apparent this morning on all the coverage that I saw and listened to.

That is even before he has actually said that he is going to run.

I think this year, media will be more important than all the previous years combined.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Posted by onlineanalyst | May 31, 2007 9:03 AM

Pay attention, too, to how the media will "paint" Fred Thompson as just another actor as if he had no credentials prior to this aspect in his career. This boilerplate description as a "star" will serve as his descriptor in all media stories and ledes.

Well before his time in Hollywood and Washington, D.C., Fred Thompson demonstrated executive capability in his law firm and singlular ethics, common sense, and a dedication to First Principles of our Republic.

Fred Thompson is not beholden to Beltway mindset nor Hollywood relativism. His appeal to voters-- Republican, Democrat, and Independent-- will probably affect the politcal landscape here on out.

Posted by Labamigo | May 31, 2007 9:24 AM

"Up to now, Fred Thompson has brilliantly remained coy about his presidential ambitions "

C'mom Captain. Chill it with Fred already.

Posted by Realist | May 31, 2007 9:39 AM

If Thomson appears to be gaining traction, the MSM will destroy him.

Your choices are Clinton, Obama, and Edwards.

Accept reality.

Posted by Nedra Lee | May 31, 2007 9:50 AM

OK Realist, enough with you. You are a Liberal - so STFU!!

Posted by hapmoorii | May 31, 2007 9:51 AM

Why the dig at Ron Paul? Whether Republican or Democrat, you have to admit both parties seem pretty well at ease with aggregating more power at the national level. The only difference is that the Democrats are upfront and honest about it. If you ask me, that's extreme. Ron Paul simply wants to return to the Constitution. Extreme? I don't think so.

Posted by Keemo | May 31, 2007 10:07 AM


You're the joke here buddy; out here in tin foil land (Hollywood), the excitement for either of the three Democrat choices is less than enthusiastic... It's way to early to have a feel for this.

I'm glad to see Fred get in this race. My vote will go for the man whom I best feel will solve the illegal immigration issue, fight evil while protecting the American people & our way of life... I sure hope one of these guys will fill those shoes. One things for sure; Hillary is a Socialist and is not up for the task of any of the criteria I have listed...

Posted by roc ingersol | May 31, 2007 10:14 AM

The fact that his main employment in politics was being a lobbyist does not give me confidence as well as being McCains co-chariman for the 2000 election. His most positive attributes seem to be saying things conservatives want to hear without any specifics on how to accomplish them. I can name a dozen conservative pundits that do the same thing. The fact is he has no managerial much less any CEO experience of either a political or business nature is also troubling. He may very well make a good President but there is nothing in his record to indicate such. He is the conservative's Obama.

Posted by PhantomObserver | May 31, 2007 10:28 AM

What really strikes me about this interview is Thompson's formal commitment to use online media (YouTube and blogs) as the primary means to get his messages across. I'm not sure, but I think this is a first from a U.S. national politician.

This would be on a par with Howard Dean's use of the Net for fundraising purposes. Thompson may be one of the few politicians, if not the first one, to utilize online media and tools under their own rules and not as an extension or afterthought of conventional media, i.e. not as a mere part of an overall media campaign. We're talking about instant turnaround on an issue (without waiting for a press conference), "free use" linkages for audio and visual materials, and online engagement.

He probably won't win, but it will be interesting to see if his online media strategy gives him strength at the polls.

Posted by Realist | May 31, 2007 10:50 AM


Since you live in Mexifornia, your vote won't count anyway.

And as far as illegal immigration is concerned, I believe that your new masters have made it clear that they consider you to be the illegal immigrant.

Viva la raza!

Viva la reconquista!

Viva Jorge bin Jorge al-Bush!

Posted by CalabasasWinger | May 31, 2007 11:11 AM

Fred was being Dissed by Hugh Hewitt yesterday afternoon. Romney's Raiders (Hugh, Cap'n Ed, et al) are trying to slap down the momentum that Fred has been garnering, but to no avail. Fred is the logical choice. Deal with it.

Posted by Carol Herman | May 31, 2007 11:35 AM

Tough competition? Right now, MOST Americans are disgusted with Dubya.

You've got people actively interested in looking at candidates. While most candidates are following a very old book. Sound Byte the people to death. Don't say anything (like Macaca) that can cause a rucus. Smile, like the dentist just finished working on your teeth. And, they shine so good light glints off of them.

But it won't work.

There's a "same-ness." A been there. Done that.

And, what we don't know is HOW Fred's gonna come out of the box, this summer. Dubya's crap is an easy target! Because Dubya put all the positive numbers on the other side of his equation.

But it's not "politics" ... as WE know it, to tear the hair out of the competition.

FRD did! He gave republicans NO PEACE. He held the isolationists, and the other dogs, up to ridicule. And, he did it because his own brain worked. He didn't call in script writers: MARTIN, BARTON, and FISH. The isolationist republicans in 1940, who got attached to Wendell Wilkie's behind. And, FDR won #3. (He won them all!) And, he wasn't afraid of the press!

But FDR could give the press "a bad day." He'd come on cheery. Then, he made the reporters sound down. Because he'd answer, and answer again, the same question; WITH A NEW INFLECTION. Finally, he's say something like "do you want me to sing it?"

FAST ON THE FEET. Good, and easy retorts. And, a very big canvas. George Allen, who LOST to Jim Webb; decided he'd be so bland, he wouldn't even use a canvas. He's just walk. And, smile. And, still? He got in trouble over "MA-KA-KA." Pointing out a guy in the audience with a Mohawk. What a whoop!

You'll notice George Allen didn't get angry.

You'll notice in the singular "debating point already won." It was Guiliani ripping into Ron Paul. BINGO.

I expect serious talk.

No, I don't expect it to be Mitt Romney. He's just not out in front. Pretty face, though. But the years for another Jack Kennedy are OVER. And, the only reason Romney is in the GOP, is that the Kennedy Clan wouldn't give him an "inn" in Massa2shits. So he ran "under the other label."

Mitt Romney is better than John Kerry. But that doesn't amount to a hill of beans. As close as the East Coast can get to a candidate for the GOP, is Guiliani. Because he has a working record.

The other thing? The lawyers have made it so miserable to go to DC as a republican, that the ONLY MAN WITH THE FORTITUDE TO STAND UP TO THIS CRAP: Is Guiliani. Why? They wouldn't be able to tie him up in knots. The guy knows how to perp walk Wall Streeters. He ain't afraid.

So, let's hope Guiliani's health holds up.

And, Fred understands the language Americans are ready to hear now, sans all the pablum.

"I DON'T KNOW WHAT BUSH STANDS FOR." In case Fred's looking for a line he can use to stick on Dubya, that's my choice.

In politics, you need that line! It has to be real to the American People. BARTON. MARTIN. And, FIIIISH. (Beats "it smells from the head down.")

The other thing I notice? Fred's PRO-ACTIVE. He saw that NBC wasn't sure what it was gonna do with their hit show; so he quit it. To "explore" the run, ahead. From where I sit? Fred's in charge of the TIMING.

Everyone is now waiting for him to appear on-stage. Hope he has the guts to take on the dodo in the White House. Spell it out.

Oh, and FIND THE CENTER. Nobody's gonna win carrying signs up that says the Supreme Court needs more ideologs up there. (Again? Advantage Guiliani.)

Posted by Jon Prichard | May 31, 2007 12:45 PM

The best candidate for 2008 is the one who will inspire Republicans to do the hard work necessary to get someone elected President. I don't see any of the current candidates with the all the tools necessary to make that happen. Some are very good candidates but each of the top three lacks something significant.

Giuliani is a social liberal pure and simple. His stance on the War and remarkable leadership through the fire and smoke on 9/11 give him a chance but I don't believe he will inspire the silent majority to action. That's what it takes to overcome the natural Democrat advantages in the electoral system.

Romney seems right on paper and in public but he also comes across as inauthentic and kind of a phony. And its not the perfect hair or bright white smile, its something else that percolates underneath (no, not the Mormon thing). He reminds one of a Tony Robbins character or a TV preacher. He's a successful and substantive guy but he turns off more people than one would expect. A good example is his latest committment to give the President's salary to charity - well, how insulting is that to us taxpayers? We pay our President real money to do a job for us and we expect him/her to be accountable. Romney's gesture shows us that he's WAY above us the people and he just doesn't need the money. Its arrogant and phony.

McCain is an irrascible old jerk these days and he's completely undercut not only the Conservative cause but broken apart the fragile Republican coalition that has managed to elect a candidate 5 of the last 7 campaigns. I don't think he gets past Super Tuesday.

Which brings us to Fred Thompson - His legislative experience is part of American lore, both as a lawyer and Senator. And yes he was a lobbyist for some years but his major client was GE, the same company that brought Ronald Reagan into national prominence in politics. The man is brilliant, conservative, substantive and actually better connected to the old Reagan Conservative base than any of the other candidates. Most importantly Thompson comes across as authentic, genuine and is a true believer in the American Ideal. These are the attributes that will inspire people to man the phones, work the precincts and get out the vote.

We Republicans have had a difficult run lately, Fred Thompson can make us believe again.

Posted by Bill Faith | May 31, 2007 1:36 PM

I added an excerpt and link to my 2007.05.31 Fred! Roundup.  Will the first time Fred tells Hillary "Ther you go again" happen in a formal debate or in a Breitbart TV appearance?

Posted by roc ingersol | May 31, 2007 1:44 PM

What about his vote for McCain-Feingold?
And his legislative accomplishments as a Senator are anything but lore. Actually he is known as being a somewhat lazy legislator. He also left public service when the country needed him most in order to start an acting career . He served just 1 and 1/4 terms as a Senator.

Again he may make a good President but his hype is bigger than his bio.

Posted by Okonkolo | May 31, 2007 2:11 PM

Methinks that the talented Mr. Thompson is going to be hurt by all the build-up and yearning for his candidacy. There will be no way to live up to it.

Posted by Jon Prichard | May 31, 2007 2:22 PM

Roc - you are grossly misinformed.

Mr. Thompson's legislative achievements both as an attorney and Senator are certainly part of American historical lore. Thompson is credited with the phrase "What did the President know and when did he know it?" made famous during the Watergate hearings, not to mention his tireless work for the Senate committee during those hearings. His actual voice from those hearings posing questions to corrupt politicians is memorialized in Oliver Stone's JFK.

As a lobbyist for the Savings and Loan industry it was Thompson's recommendations to Congress that formed the basis of the Garn-St. Germain legislation that saved the industry from bankruptcy.

As a US Senator he chaired the Government Affairs Committee which exposed hundreds of cases of campaign finance corruption at the highest levels of government. No one would have ever heard of Johnny Chung and the rest of the foreign contributor gangs without Thompson's steadfast achievements. To be sure hundreds of witnesses either took the 5th or fled the country to avoid prosecution but you can't say Thompson shirked his duties in the Senate.

He didn't leave the Senate to start an acting career...he was an accomplished actor long before he was a Senator. Also, he always maintained he wasn't going to be a Senator for life and wasn't going to run for more than two elections. After 9/11 he briefly reconsidered but then his daughter tragically died accidently and he decided to leave when his term was over. If only more politicians would limit themselves! By the way, he won both of his elections by more than 20 points each (Al Gore's old seat) and he won more votes than any politician for any office in the history of his state.

I'll grant you that his vote for the BRCA was a mistake but its just one vote out of hundreds that were right. Also, he's denounced that vote as a mistake and that the legislation didn't have its intended effects. If there were several such votes (like McCain's record) I would be concerned. He wanted to see corruption in politics cleaned up, that's why he voted that way. No politician who casts votes will have a perfect record but Thompson's is pretty close.

The only strike I see against Thompson is that he shares the same birthday as Bill Clinton (Aug. 19).

Posted by roc ingersol | May 31, 2007 2:48 PM

You mean Thompson was a legislator during Watergate? News to me. What legislation did he sponsor while he was a Senator? So he wasn't going to run for more than two elections? Why not two full terms? He served just over one term and left 4 months after 9/11 to continue his acting career. You can spin it all you want but that says something negative about him to me. It also tells me something that he voted No on the perjury impeachement charge against Clinton. The one charge in which there is no dispute.

Posted by Jon Prichard | May 31, 2007 3:29 PM

No Roc,

Thompson was special counsel to the Senate Committe investigating Watergate. In that capacity he formulated the mechanisms by which a corrupt President was brought to justice (in a manner of speaking). The actual legislation was conducted by Sen. Howard Baker but certainly qualifies as Thompson's achievements for that legislative body.

You mischaracterize his two terms in office. The first term was the abridged term. He ran in a special election to replace Al Gore who had been elected as Vice-President of the United States. Two years later Thompson ran for re-election and served his entire term. He retired four months after 9/11 because that's when the term ended. If that says something negative about him to you then you either have an inflated view of your own opinion or you just don't know the facts.

Actually there was quite a dispute about the perjury charge against Clinton in the legal sense. Thompson is a highly accomplished attorney and didn't feel the impeachment managers legally made that case. Thompson was one of 50 Senators to vote for the obstruction of justice charge, which if two-thirds of the Senators had voted for would have forced Clinton from office so what's your point and why does THAT fact 'say something negative about him'?

I'm not spinning, just laying out clearly recorded facts. My opinion is that Thompson is the best man for the job at this point in America's history.

Posted by brooklyn | May 31, 2007 11:15 PM

Fred Thompson began as a lobbyist.

Another Senator, who should be asked the same tough questions...

For example, what did he do for the illegal immigration problems while in the Senate.

(so far, it seems to be nothing)

What did he do to fight against the Clinton Negligence, including the Gorelick Wall?

Did he try to stop the appointment of Ginsberg?

So many Conservative voices are vilifying so many who are serving Our interests in Washington, and Fred Thompson is a Washington Insider who has no CEO experience.

Yet, like many hyped subjects, the fashion takes Fred Thompson as a big time Conservative.

It is mostly image...

We shall see.

Posted by Rose | June 1, 2007 1:57 AM

Every time I think of Fred Thompson, best buds with McCain, being one of FOUR GOP Senators who voted that philandering rapist Clinton was NOT GUILTY of Perjury...

When I think of all the folks who have suffered assaults of various kinds since the DIM LIBERALS started dismantling our justice system, and there is no longer a serious penalty for molesting and raping women and children - DOES ANYONE REMEMBER THAT IS WHERE THE PERJURY CHARGE STEMMED FROM? - and here is someone with a big Hollywood-created "LAW AND ORDER IMAGE" - Fred Thompson - standing there looking competent, willing and able - WHO ALREADY DEMONSTRATED FULLY with THAT ONE VOTE, the TRUTH behind the HOLLYWOOD IMAGE, that the DEFENSELESS NEED NOT SUPPLICATE TO FRED THOMPSON, because he has arrogantly and dismissively brushed aside the cries of women seeking protection from molestation, rape, harrassment and even death...

Wasn't America supposed to be the Land where even the high and mighty are not allowed to be abusive, and even the lowly and dispirited should be able to find SAFETY and SECURITY in their persons??????????

Well, NOT AT FRED THOMPSON'S DOOR, even when he is a United States Senator.

Shall I help HIM, after that vote - that slap in the face of all who have ever been raped and harrassed and stalked??? - when the defenseless turn to the powers that be for help, and those in authority turn them aside... sorry to seem to be melodramatic - but the image that comes instantly to me is the small negro child who ran to the police screaming for help, naked and absolutely terrified, beyond any doubt in THEIR minds! - and they turned the little boy over to a grown adult white man they imagined to themselves was the boy's CHOSEN lover - who then ATE THE BOY - Jeffrey Dohmer. Melodramatic, yes, truth, YES. My opinion of Rapists and their ENABLERS - ABSOLUTELY!!!

Every time I think of Fred Thompson when I SAW HIM TELLING SEAN HANNITY HE FELT GOOD ABOUT THE DECISIONS HE MADE, that one had been just specified by Sean, particularly, along with McCain Feingold,


Those of you who are easily dazzled, do as you will - you ain't blackmailing me into voting for THAT garbage.

Posted by Rose | June 1, 2007 2:04 AM

We Republicans have had a difficult run lately, Fred Thompson can make us believe again.

Posted by: Jon Prichard at May 31, 2007 12:45 PM

In what??? Bill Clinton's innocence???

Posted by Rose | June 1, 2007 2:14 AM

The only strike I see against Thompson is that he shares the same birthday as Bill Clinton (Aug. 19).

Posted by: Jon Prichard at May 31, 2007 2:22 PM

Is that also his EXCUSE for being one of ONLY FOUR GOP Senators to vote that Clinton WAS NOT GUILTY of Perjury?????

Didn't have any trouble fully prosecuting the Republican, but he rode the fence on the Democrate, Clinton, and let Clinton off the hook.


Heard tonight the National GOP fired their entire staff of the phone bank soliciters - antiquated phone system and 99% angry GOP voters in EVERY state.

I'm not even one they called this year - I got a lot of calls from them a few years ago.

Anyway, seems their donations are crashing.

I won't vote for a McCain and Clinton enabler.

The GOP isn't going to win back their insulted base THAT way! SO LOL!