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Thompson Considering Ames?

Campaign officials for former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson (R) are set to meet with Republican Party of Iowa executive director Chuck Laudner today in Washington, according to several informed sources.

The meeting was set up by a third party unaffiliated with either Thompson or the Iowa Republican Party in hopes of getting the two sides to the table, said a source familiar with the details of the meeting. While neither Laudner nor the Thompson campaign would confirm it, Laudner's trip is almost certainly aimed at trying to convince the Senator to participate in the Ames Straw Poll in August. Thompson is currently undecided about the event.

While Thompson had long been expected to skip Ames, his calculation might be changing after former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (N.Y.) and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) backed out of the straw poll earlier this week. Former Gov. Mitt Romney (Mass.) who is considered the favorite in the contest, still plans to attend, but it's not immediately clear what a win would do for Romney if Giuliani, McCain and Thompson all took a pass.

If Thompson is truly considering playing in the straw poll, it could revivify an event that looked all-but-dead less than 24 hours ago. From Thompson's point of view, he could use the straw poll as a way to kick start his organization in Iowa without facing the possibility of finishing fourth behind Romney, McCain and Giuliani. A strong second place finish in Iowa (behind Romney) could give Thompson some tangible evidence of the interest and excitement among Republican voters for his candidacy.

It still seems to make more sense for Thompson to husband his resources for the Iowa caucuses and beyond, but the fact he has yet to rule out an active Ames campaigns shows how unsettled the 2008 campaign truly is.

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 8, 2007; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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