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Thompson In the Race,
Will Announce Formally in Sept.

Fred Dalton Thompson is running for president, hoping to weave his "Law & Order" persona and real-life Senate career into a compelling narrative that will appeal to conservative Republican voters in the primary and then the broader electorate next year.

In a telephone conference call with elected and party officials, Thompson campaign manager Bill Lacy stopped playing coy: he told them Thompson is finished "testing the waters" and will file papers to be a candidate next Thursday. Lacy laid out plans for a formal announcement to come late next week -- first in an online webcast and then with trips to the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

"They made it very clear that on Sept 6 they will be filing their papers and we'll be into the race," said Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who was on the call. "People were excited to know that he is moving forward."

Thompson's long-anticipated entrance into the race sets in motion a battle among three leading candidates for the Republican nomination as the presidential campaign moves into the fall season, when voters begin to pay attention and candidates ramp up their activites. Standing squarely in Thompson's way is former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

"Romney's trying to consolidate his position on the right. Giuliani's trying to solidify his position [as] national frontrunner," said Mike Murphy, a GOP consultant who advised Arizona Sen. John McCain during his 2000 White House campaign. "The new factor will be: can Fred Thompson launch a campaign successfully?"

That is an open question. Even in its infancy, Thompson's campaign has been plagued by staff shakeups and unexplained delays in announcing his candidacy. And the former senator's long career as a lobbyist and lawyer have already exposed political weaknesses, including controversial clients and a brief stint working on behalf of a pro-choice group.

Even with those problems, an unannounced Thompson has done well in national and regional polls, establishing himself in a solid second-place position nationally and with strong support in some of the important primary states.

Added Murphy: "What you really have got to do is to take this great, mythic Fred Thompson that everyone seems to be interested in and somehow campaign on a day to day basis."

That effort will apparently begin Wednesday. Even as his rivals are debating on Fox that night, Thompson is tentatively scheduled to be in Burbank, taping an appearance on Jay Leno's "Tonight Show," according to sources close to the campaign. A official with NBC-Universal said Thompson is tentatively scheduled to be on the show that night.

A day later, his campaign will unwrap a slickly-produced online video in which Thompson explains his reasons for wanting to be president. And then he will start campaigning in person.

"The first part of this effort, we need to let people know who Fred is and what he stands for," said one of his top advisers, who requested anonymity to speak frankly about his plans. "His challenges are twofold: to let people know who he is [and to] continue to raise money to fuel the campaign."

The advisers said Thompson is likely to continue the themes he has been sounding in limited campaigning so far: a need for better national security, a focus on fiscal discipline and a desire to refocus on core Republican principles -- immigration reform, limited government and federalism.

In a speech to a Republican group last week, he weaved together a series of folksy jokes with a pessimistic critique of the nation's current direction.

"I do not think we have come together as a nation and come to terms with the length and duration and expense and commitment that it's going to take to meet the threat that we have in Islamic terrorism and radicalism," he told the audience at the Midwest Leadership Conference in Indianapolis.

On economic policy, he warned the group that "we are doing steady damage to our economy, and if we don't do things better it's going to result in economic disaster to future generations and we are going to leave this place weaker for future generations."

His style, aides said, is likely to borrow from his successful Senate campaigns, in which he used a beat-up red pickup to project an image of down-home charm. But aides have concluded that runnign for president requires a more polished approach. The campaign is still working on the right balance -- Thompson was mocked recently for wearing Gucci loafers at the Iowa state fair.

"My sense is if we can make it through the first 30 days, we'll win," said on Thompson adviser.But Thompson's long tease has given his rivals plenty of time to strategize about how to deal with his particular brand of Hollywod-tinged campaigning.

Kevin Madden, a Romney spokesman, said his candidate will igrnore Thompson as much as possible, focusing instead on the need to increase Romney's name identification across the country.

"We deal with it by sticking to our plan," Madden said. "The question is: How does Governor Romney gain more support with Republican primary voters? The answer is talking about his ideas and where he stands."

Giuliani advisers believe Thompson may seek out a confrontation with Romney as both men try to appeal to conservatives in the party who are uncertain about the New York mayor because of his positions on gun rights, abortion and immigration.

"There is a competition between others to be the conservative who takes them on," said one Republican consultant not affiliated with the campaign. "That competition to be the guy who can then have the fight with Giuliani."

Another GOP consultant said Thompson will have trouble making that case.

"He's got this sheen as a conservative savior," said the consultant, who asked not to be named criticizing Thompson. "It's very clear his record is exactly the opposite. ... He's a centrist who voted for campaign finance reform, known as someone who was not a reliable conservative vote and with a conflicting record as a Washington insider-lobbyist."

One Romney strategist predicted that the challenge for all three leading Republicans will be to become the most complete Republican candidate: one that's right on national security, social issues and electability.

"Do we want to elect somebody who is only two-thirds Republican," the strategist asked, "or do we want to represent all of the important platforms of the Republcian party?"

--Michael D. Shear

UPDATE: Read Thompson's official plans for his announcement.

By Washington Post editors  |  August 30, 2007; 5:00 PM ET
 
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Comments

well...now the cable television industry is making the election rules about the equal broadcast time for the candidates.
or...are they? maybe they are challenging them because they can and because there is no precedent to rule? the result? making money from the other candidates for equal time on the boob tube regardless of how many "voters" will be watching. the evening slots have become a lot more expensive in anticipation of this fracas. ted turner = a true american with a great sense of fairness. golly who knew?
ted turner for president. don't like him then how about sumner redstone?

Posted by: lindafranke1952 | August 31, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

CM1515: "You guys on this thread are priceless! I'm enjoying your swarm here to post your negative very important views.
I can almost smell the fear."

If that's the standard then Republicans are apparently scared s**tless of Hillary Clinton, ace. What's on this thread is nothing compared to the stuff from GOPers regarding her.

Posted by: Spectator2 | August 31, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

My favorite repub most likely will leave politics at the end of his term in 08. I don't think any repub can beat Hillary and I have noticed many in her own party taking pot shots at her, when the ones doing it has no chance in 08. Thompson has little chance and maybe this is a ego trip for him as it appears to be with most in both parties.

Posted by: lylepink | August 31, 2007 1:38 AM | Report abuse

Freds entering the race is like a giant ray of sunshine!!!! Finally soneone who doesn't need the job, who will tell it as it is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: suelemieux | August 30, 2007 11:34 PM | Report abuse

He would be late to his own inauguration at the rate he moves.

Posted by: barrypatricia | August 30, 2007 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Bravo, dennispro.

Posted by: oldanncrjr | August 30, 2007 10:42 PM | Report abuse

another hillbilly pedophile

Posted by: mamonks | August 30, 2007 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Fred may have waited to long to jump in, but I'd take him over Shillary any time.

Posted by: dennispro | August 30, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Here's a chance for you all to see what the best of the Democratic Party used to be way back when. And there were some great ones. You should be excited... it is rare to have an oppritunity for a glimps back in time.

Posted by: oldanncrjr | August 30, 2007 10:36 PM | Report abuse

The guy wasn't even a distinguished senator. At least Reagan was a governor. I just wished voters would actually research their candidate than be spoon fed sound bites. They would realize Hillary did very overall in the Senate, particularly for NY. Edwards keeps shooting himself in the foot(we should sacrifice SUVs...then hops into one...who is running his campaign?. Mitt actually has a decent record as a moderate. Whether he completely abandons these tendencies to win over the "base" will be telling. Same with Rudy, although he seems to be holding fast to his previously stated beliefs (he is at least on the record as buying into that crazy idea of evolution). Of course the mainstream continues to ignore the real choice in all of this...Bill Richardson. I can only hope for a Bill Clinton-like showing in the early primaries to get some spotlight..and momentum. Of course that won't work if all the states continue to move up their primaries to make the chance of doing well completely based on advertising dollars.

Posted by: BurtReynolds | August 30, 2007 10:36 PM | Report abuse

***said Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who was on the call. "People were excited to know that he is moving forward."***


Glaciers move forward faster than this hopeless old windbag...maybe he can pry some campaign cash from those S&Ls he lobbied to deregulate...oh, that's right...they got deregulated, then they got raped by Thompson's crooked sponsors, then they folded when the cash was all gone and now there are no S&Ls...nice work, Fred...just another turd-blossom poking up through the horse manure....

Posted by: Jerryvov | August 30, 2007 10:34 PM | Report abuse

For Democrats, Fred Thompson is going to be the man to beat. His "brand" is clear and uncomplicated. Whether you describe him as "Southern-Fried Reagan" or "Ben Cartwright," Sen. Thompson presents that patriarchal archetype that is foundational to American perceptions of the idyllic Republican candidate: conservative, plain-spoken, tough, and commanding. And a real contrast to the Democratic field

At the same time, Sen. Thompson's partisanship has, for decades, been tempered by a gentlemanly demeanor and a general willingness to "cross the aisle," when necessary. His is a career built on being "consumable" - firm, yet comforting.

Sen. Thompson's candidacy should make Democrats VERY concerned about who will best match the Republicans in both the presidential election - and in 2008's congressional races. Sen. Thompson could have VERY long coattails, particularly in places like Indiana, Ohio, Montana, and North Carolina, where Democratic success in 2006 came about, in part, by running candidates whose views, and "brands," ran to the right of Blue State norms.

That said, he's got to run hard--fast. Elections are won on the ground. If Sen. Thompson wants to win the presidency, he needs to win the Republican nomination and that means he'll need to a lot of dedicated supporters to pound the pavement from September 4 to February 5.

Game on.

Peter S. Cohl
The Political Brandwagon
http://www.politicalbrandwagon.com

Posted by: pscohl | August 30, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

You guys on this thread are priceless! I'm enjoying your swarm here to post your negative very important views.
I can almost smell the fear.

Posted by: CM1515 | August 30, 2007 10:07 PM | Report abuse

In the reference to the "down home charm" of Thompson's red truck, it should be noted, of course, that the truck was not Thompson's and that he would ride to events in another car, then when he got close to an event, he would hop into the truck to "project" a fake image of himself....That tells you everything you need to know about him....

Posted by: htessay | August 30, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

"I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it"......
"I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it".

"I love it....for sentimental reasons".

Posted by: CM1515 | August 30, 2007 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Yawn - who cares? I am a lifelong REpublican and it will take a he!! of a lot more than this guy to change my mind about who I am voring for. Look at what he did when he was a Watgergate lawyer - he continuously fed info to the crook Nixon, Halderman, et al, while he was supposedly participating in the investigation.

Posted by: swanie | August 30, 2007 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Yawn and snoooooooooore. We don't need a cautious geezer with a young wife in the White House. There's just too much that needs fixin'.
Then there's the specter of the past eight years with the "undisclosed" vice president.
Thompson has had many undistinguished careers. Let's not facilitate another.

Posted by: mikie44 | August 30, 2007 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: KYJurisDoctor | August 30, 2007 9:03 PM | Report abuse

What a pathetic lot these GOP candidates are. Their best hope..an aged movie star with a child bride? My bet is on the Mormon, the only one who has had only one wife! Ha...........

Posted by: logcabin1836 | August 30, 2007 8:55 PM | Report abuse

*Yawn*
Thompson is so unimpressive. He wasn't able to raise that much money for his exploratory committee. Once he's fully in the race the mask will eventually come off and he will be summarily dismissed as a serious contender. Americans are obviously done with hawks and closeted religious conservatives. Republicans might as well just hang it up on this next election if this is the best they can do.

Posted by: jpfitness | August 30, 2007 8:46 PM | Report abuse

"Do we want to elect somebody who is only two-thirds Republican," the strategist asked, "or do we want to represent all of the important platforms of the Republcian party?"

Heaven forbid the Republicans chosing a candidate who challenges their positions or has a mind of their own... Fred, you better get yourself a gun, and soon. Don't make it a little hunting rifle either, because you're late to the campaign it will need to be a semi-automatic sniper rifle with the grenade launcher. You know, the kind millions of Americans use daily to protect their families and the kind we'll need if we pull out of Iraq and are forced to fight the terrorists here.

Sorry all, I wish the Republicans were fielding their best minds for this election because that is what this is all about, electing a qualified candidate. I anticipate Thomson being a bore and soon to be viewed as a dullard.

Posted by: Rickster623 | August 30, 2007 8:29 PM | Report abuse

from kos
"By delaying the filing of his organizational papers until books have closed on the third quarter of 2007, Thompson arguably will not have to file any disclosure reports with the FEC until January 31, 2008, after the Republican primaries/caucuses in WY, IA, NH, NV, FL and Lord knows who else at this point."

Posted by: swade518 | August 30, 2007 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Windbag.

Posted by: bfjam | August 30, 2007 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Waering Gucci loafers to the Iowa State Fair. I presume he showed up in overalls
for the seemingly down-home look, along
with driving that old beat red truck. Also,
I'll just bet Larry E. Craig is looking
to polish his tarnished image by begging
Fred Thompson to give him that chance to
really prove he's a Man's Man, that is, after leaving Mitt's campaign.

Posted by: jetsfoto | August 30, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Just another Pretty Smug Republican face in the 2008 GOP Presidential Crowd.

Posted by: jetsfoto | August 30, 2007 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I heard on Fox News that if you add up all the ages of all the GOP candidates's young wives, they exactly add up to the age of Barbara Bush.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | August 30, 2007 7:37 PM | Report abuse

I like Thompson. My favorable view goes back to watergate. I see he reflects the good "up-bringing" from counselors like Senator Sam Ervin, Howard Baker, Sam Nunn and maybe a few others of similar character and principles.

Question is who (if he's nominated) will be picked to run with him. I like Lindsay Graham and the former African American congressman from Oklahoma whose name I can't remeber at the moment. I like Huckabee as well, but two southerners don't make sense.

Posted by: Huffman214 | August 30, 2007 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Who gives a flying ...!

Boring candidate; devoid of any ideas; inarticulate; too old.

But we'll probably elect him, if nominated, fools that we are.

Oh, Canada!

Posted by: pgf1948 | August 30, 2007 7:34 PM | Report abuse

And if things don't work out for him in this race, he can always make dog food commercials or something.

Posted by: lwps | August 30, 2007 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but he smells good, manly, sort of like wild cat musk, just ask Chris Matthews. This alone qualifies him to lead the nation into it's next preemptive attack and occupation.

Posted by: napperfat | August 30, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Another Republican candidate with a wife young enough to be their granddaughter. Is this is second, third, or fourth wife?

Posted by: logcabin1836 | August 30, 2007 7:03 PM | Report abuse

I have decided that if my choice in 2008 is Fred Thompson or Hillary Clinton I will move out of the country. It will prove to me that the bulk of Americans are gullible idiots that will do whatever mass media tells them. Looks like I should start sending my resume around.

Posted by: BurtReynolds | August 30, 2007 6:59 PM | Report abuse

I have had enough of show business politicians. Ragan killed the space program, put commercials on public television and I am still wating to feel any thing from his trckle down economic scam. Ron Grube

Posted by: OldCoot1 | August 30, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

I like him better than all the other candidates.

Posted by: oldanncrjr | August 30, 2007 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Just what we need another Republican with weird sexual behaviors.

Posted by: Neocon | August 30, 2007 6:22 PM | Report abuse

nice try but I think it's too little too late he should probably stick to law and order type jobs that way he doesn't impact the security of this nation. or who is going to write his script

Posted by: usaII | August 30, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse


He's going to announce on Leno..
What a genius..
He'll be out of the race by December..

Posted by: YouryellowribbonmagnetwontgetyouintoHeavenanymore | August 30, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

here's a new board for Thompson shills to get busy on. Go for it guys!

Posted by: Spectator2 | August 30, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

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