Thompson Almost Official

31 May 2007 |permalink | email article

As expected, Fred Thompson, the former Tennessee senator and star of “Law and Order,” has taken the first step in entering the race for the Republican presidential nomination. He will file Federal Election Commission papers on June 4 disclosing he’s raised several million dollars.

As The Body Politic first reported May 20, Thompson disclosed his intentions Tuesday during a conference call with 100 potential donors, each of whom was urged to raise $50,000.

Supporters who accepted Thompson’s challenge will be called “First Day Founders.” When launched, the campaign will have offices in Nashville and Northern Virginia. Many former aides to Reagan and Bush 41 are involved.

A knowledgeable source told TBP that former California GOP strategist Ken Reitz will serve as senior special adviser. His one-time client, former California Lt. Gov. Mike Curb, the music industry records icon who moved to Nashville years ago, took part in the call.

The source said Thompson sees himself as a “consistent conservative” who can unite all elements of the party and demonstrate competence, perhaps a response to the most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll which found only 53% of Republicans satisfied with their choices.

The expectation, with the candidate leaving some wiggle room about a final decision, is that Thompson will make a formal announcement in Nashville sometime around the Fourth of July holiday.

The red pickup truck that was the symbol of his first Senate race will soon be on the road in Iowa and New Hampshire to demonstrate his folksy, populist appeal. But the gimmick and his celebrity may not be enough.

His major rivals, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney, will have a huge financial edge in the current quarter, putting enormous pressure on him to become competitive with many donors, activists and endorsements already committed.

The question for Thompson, who is 64 and has a reputation for an aversion to hard work, is whether he really has the fire in the belly to work like hell in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and break from the pack.

During the conference call a question was asked about his health which is said to be fine. But Thompson has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer which is in remission.



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