Friday, September 14, 2007
Fred Thompson making the announcement on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, 5 Sep 2007As a veteran actor, Fred Dalton Thompson knows how to make an entrance. "We are where we need to be right now, and that is one of the things I want to talk to you about; I am running for president of the United States."
He chose to announce his candidacy Hollywood-style, on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno", a popular late-night television talk show. The venue emphasized the very thing his rivals fear most -- Thompson's star-power.
The next day, the 65-year-old told voters in Iowa why he decided to run. "I am determined that we make the decisions that leave us a stronger nation, a more prosperous nation, and a more united nation and that is why I am running for the presidency of the United States."
The former senator and attorney from Tennessee made a smooth transition from Congress back to an acting career in 2002, when he joined the cast of NBC's crime series "Law and Order."
He made a career of playing tough but fair authority figures--aided by his two meters height and heavy brow.
Even before he officially got in the race, surveys showed Thompson towering over many of his rivals, coming in second only to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in national polls. Some political experts are asking if Thompson will rescue the Republican Party, pointing to dissatisfaction with other candidates.
John Fortier is an expert on presidential politics. "Especially when Rudy Giuliani and John McCain were the front-runners," he says, "Republicans were really looking around for somebody else--a more conservative candidate. They were hoping for Ronald Reagan to come back and he was not available, but they saw Fred Thompson as a possible figure in that regard."
Others have also drawn the comparison with late President Reagan. Larry Sabato directs the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "Thompson also has a Reaganesque quality about him because of his connection to Hollywood. Republicans always try to nominate Ronald Reagan, just like Democrats always try to nominate John F. Kennedy."
Thompson's southern drawl and conservative voting record are made to order for the Republican Party's important base of southern conservative voters. He is pro-gun rights and anti-abortion, and has made clear he wants the United States to do whatever it takes to prevail in Iraq.
But some experts point to flaws. There was turnover among his staff before he even announced, some said involving clashes with his wife Jeri -- herself a political consultant. So far, Thompson has had little success raising money, and many on the campaign trail say he does not always relish the rigors of political life -- as Larry Sabato points out. "With all due respect to Senator Thompson, he is not known as the most energetic politician around. Even some of his former staffers say he was relatively lazy as a member of the Senate.
Now that Thompson has taken his place on center stage, it is up to him to deliver the performance of a lifetime to try and win the 2008 nomination and a real-life role in the White House.
Video Courtesy: NBC "Tonight Show with Jay Leno", 20th Century Fox, Castle Rock Entertainment, Fox News Channel
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Actor and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee won the Washington State Republican Party's first straw poll Saturday night. Not bad for a guy who's not yet a presidential candidate. (Or maybe that's part of the appeal.)Washington has caught the Thompson Wave!!
Chairman Luke Esser's e-mail update sent Monday night says Thompson got half the votes at the party's 25th annual gala dinner and auction. More than 570 people were there, though only about 29 percent of them voted.
The results: Fred Thompson, 50 percent; Mitt Romney, 16 percent; Rudy Giuliani, 15 percent; Duncan Hunter, 10 percent; John McCain, 5 percent; and Tom Tancredo, Tommy Thompson, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich, 1 percent each.
"Clearly the other candidates have some work to do to match the support that former Sen. Thompson is receiving from grassroots activists," Esser wrote. "Two presidential candidates — Sen. John McCain and Rep. Duncan Hunter — had
representatives campaigning at the event (every presidential campaign was
invited to participate)."
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
The race for the Republican Presidential nomination is getting closer. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani remains on top, but his lead has fallen to single digits.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows Giuliani at 25%, eight points more than Arizona Senator John McCain’s 17%. Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson has not entered the race, but is just a single point behind McCain. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is at 12%, the only other candidate in double digits. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich remains in fifth place with 8% support.
Giuliani leads Thompson by four points among men and leads McCain by ten points among women.
It is interesting to note that 38% of Republican Primary Voters either express no preference or are supporting a candidate not in the running at this time (Gingrich or Thompson). That is just one indicator of how wide open the race for the GOP nomination remains.
Monday, May 7, 2007
Thompson: How a small-town character made the big time
Prominence followed colorful, conflicted teens
By BRAD SCHRADE Staff Writer The Tennessean.com
LAWRENCEBURG, Tenn. — The Latin teacher at Lawrence County High School had a warning for Bob Buckner's mother: Your son is hanging around with that troublemaker Freddie Thompson. With his cutup personality, Freddie was a persistent disrupter of Miss Desda Garner's ninth-grade Latin class — and Bob, the teacher warned, was his cohort.
"Mom told me I was going to be forbidden to associate with him," Buckner told The Tennessean. "That was when we were freshmen. It went downhill from there." The life of the man now known as Fred Thompson has twisted and turned like the country roads of the rural Lawrence County where he grew up: a used-car salesman's son, a kid who by all accounts was an unimpressive student and who married before he graduated from high school after getting his girlfriend pregnant, but who followed the winding road to Nashville, the U.S. Capitol, Hollywood and now, possibly, the White House.
In sleepy Lawrenceburg, few claim to have predicted the fame and stature that lay ahead of him. They remember Freddie as the class clown — he was likable and smart, though not studious.They also say he matured quickly and deeply after becoming a young husband and father. They describe him as a genuine and decent man with a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
"He had a way of making you like what he was saying even if you didn't agree with him at first," said childhood friend Jan Clifton, gesturing toward a lamppost on the
square. "He had a way, if I didn't think I could climb that pole, of convincing me I could do it." As for the presidency, Lawrenceburg folks think this is Fred's right time. "He comes across as so sincere," said Tommy Beurlein, one of Thompson's high school classmates. "He's not trying to answer some way to be popular at the minute."
Humor 'runs in family'
Before he was on Law & Order, before he drove a red pickup truck to a seat in the U.S. Senate, before his 6-foot-5 frame graced movie screens, Fred Thompson was most well-known for his ability to get a laugh."Everybody's got a Fred Thompson story that went to school with him," said Anne Morrow, a cousin who is curator of the local Crockett Theater arts center. "He majored in 'people' in school, not necessarily the curriculum." He drew a caricature of a substitute teacher on the blackboard before class began and left it there for the teacher to see, Buckner said. During football practice, the lanky lineman persuaded a team trainer to go to a store and get him a Coke, a coach recalled. Thompson and Buckner left campus so often and misbehaved so often that the principal created a special, separate study hall area just for the two of them — one accessible only by going through his office.
"Freddie was a character," said Marie Barber, a neighbor and family friend who had two daughters around Thompson's age. "I'm not going to tell you some of things he did. He teased the girls, and they fussed at him, naturally." But she said Thompson was a "good boy" whom she never knew to smoke or drink. "Everyone called him 'Moose,' " said her daughter Ann Barber Webb, a Thompson classmate. "He was real funny. It runs in the family. His dad was that way."Thompson's former coach Garner Ezell, who attended First Street Church of Christ with Thompson's family, remembered a football game in which the youngster was injured and lay at midfield. "When the coaches got to him, he said, 'How's the crowd taking it?' " the coach said. "He was smart, but he was lazy. He probably could have been a straight-A student if he'd applied himself."
He had 'ideal childhood'
Fred Dalton Thompson was born Aug. 19, 1942, in Sheffield, Ala. When he was still young, the family moved across the state line to Lawrenceburg. The square in Lawrenceburg is relatively quiet today, inhabited by an array of antique shops, a clothing store, a museum to Southern gospel music, a bank and a Christian bookstore. But when Thompson was growing up, it was a thriving commercial center, with active movie theaters, a department store, banks, restaurants — a hub of activity centered on the county courthouse, which is no longer there.
The Thompson family — parents Fletcher and Ruth, sons Fred and Kenny — grew up in a one-story home within walking distance of the square, and which still stands. School was just blocks away, as was Blair's grocery, a small corner store that took credit and delivered orders in the neighborhood. Fred's grandparents ran a diner just off the square. "Fred had such good parents, and I had such good parents," Clifton said. "We had such an ideal childhood, and we didn't really even know it." Through a spokesman, Thompson declined to be interviewed for this series of profiles. But there's no shortage of people in Lawrenceburg who remember him.
As a teen, Thompson was "a typical late-'50s small-town American kid," Beurlein said. "He loved to have a good time. Fred was a cutup. I can't think of many people in the class who weren't. You were worried about putting gas in Daddy's car for Friday night."
In the Class of 1960's senior yearbook, his picture bore the caption "Freddie Dalton Thompson." Printed with it was this saying: "The lazier a man is, the more he plans to do tomorrow."
He draws town's censure
Sarah Lindsey was sweet, pretty and smart. Her family owned a plant that made pews and other church furniture. Her uncle was a lawyer. She was a grade ahead of Thompson. Sometime in high school, they started dating. Some couldn't see them as a match — Sarah the good girl, Freddie the clown. Buckner said he and his girlfriend regularly double-dated with them. (Lindsey, now Sarah Knes trick, did not return a phone call seeking an interview.)
Sometime between their junior year and early senior year, Thompson came to Buckner one day: "He said 'Bob, Sarah is pregnant and I'm going to marry her.' " Buckner said he was floored and suggested he and his friend hit the road to escape. But Thompson was ready to face his new responsibility, Buckner said. Early in their senior year the couple married — Buckner was best man. The newlyweds moved in with Lindsey's parents. The town didn't like what Thompson had done to one of its upstanding daughters. "I could not have endured the criticism he had to go through," Buckner said. "The censure he experienced, the ridicule he endured. I admired him for it."
According to Buckner and other Thompson friends and acquaintances, the future senator's marriage to Lindsey and entry into her family changed Thompson, gave him direction and placed him on a more serious path. "Fred obviously is a smart person," said Buckner, who now lives in Memphis. "That would have come out in some way. He might have been the best car salesman in West Tennessee. But the notion of going to law school, going to college? The seed, if it was there, grew after that."
He makes the grade
Despite the marriage and family, Thompson stayed in school and graduated with his high school class in 1960. The couple would divorce in the 1980s. Both Fred and Sarah Thompson started college at what is now the University of North Alabama before transferring to the then-Memphis State University, where they graduated — with two children by then, and another to come a year later.
Upon graduation, Thompson planned to attend Vanderbilt Law School. But he needed recommendation letters, and he turned to Buckner's mother, a Vanderbilt graduate.As an English teacher at Lawrence County High, Eleanor Buckner remembered her former student Freddie Thompson — the misbehaving student, smart but never applying himself. Bob Buckner recalls his mother being torn about whether to write a letter on Thompson's behalf.
But Freddie was all grown up by then. He went to see Mrs. Buckner, and convinced her his change was genuine. She wrote the letter. Vanderbilt accepted him, and in 1967 he graduated from its law school. He passed the bar exam the same year, and returned to Lawrenceburg to begin practicing with his wife's uncle.
He gets political
Buckner recalled only one time when his friend showed an inkling of a political position. It was sometime after high school, in the mid-1960s, when union unrest at the Murray Ohio bicycle plant had reached a fever pitch. An electrical transformer was said to have been shot out, and union sympathizers were suspected. An anti-union gathering was called, and Thompson showed up at Buckner's home, asking to borrow a handgun. He returned the gun unused.
After law school, sometime around the late 1960s, Thompson became politically active. His friend Tom Crews, a longtime local educator, remembered a Republican gathering at the courthouse around 1969 or '70. Thompson "all of sudden walked in" and asked whether the county had a Young Republicans group. "Don't you think we need one?" Thompson asked. "He said, 'Why don't you and I undertake this?' "
But in the first meeting of the Young Republicans of Lawrence County, it was clear that Thompson was the leader, Crews said. He had a charisma that people followed. Though his father had once run unsuccessfully for local office as a Democrat, Thompson would get a seat on the county's Republican Executive Committee. That gave him entrée to statewide party leaders, according to a biography of Tennessee senators co-authored by Thompson's former colleague Bill Frist. Those GOP luminaries included U.S. Sen. Howard Baker.
He enters national stage
Those political contacts helped him land a job in Nashville as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Nixon
administration. In 1972, he d i rected Baker's re-election campaign in Middle Tennessee. The powerful East Tennessee senator reciprocated by summoning Thompson to Washington the next year to serve as minority counsel on the Senate committee investigating the Watergate scandal.
After they graduated, Ann Barber Webb lost track of Freddie Thompson, the boy she recalls sleeping through class. She moved to northern Alabama and started a family. One day in the early 1970s she caught a little television — "the Watergate thing" — as she rocked one of her babies to sleep. And that's when she found him again. "I said, 'Oh, there's Freddie Thompson.' I didn't know he was a big-time lawyer. I didn't know he had made it so good. I was tickled for him." During that time, Fletcher Thompson is said to have called up to Washington, looking for his son, according to Crews and Ezell. "I want to speak to Freddie," the elder Thompson told the secretary. "You mean Mr. Thompson?" the woman asked. "No, I want to speak to Freddie. I'm Mr. Thompson."Fletcher Thompson didn't recognize it, but the rest of the world was quickly learning that Lawrenceburg's little Freddie Thompson was a character of the past. Fred Dalton Thompson had entered the national stage.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Stuck between the home states of two of their party's presidential candidates, Connecticut Republicans are headlining their annual fundraiser with an actor-politician who may yet declare: Fred Dalton Thompson.
Thompson, 64, a former U.S. senator from Tennessee who now appears weekly as a district attorney on television's "Law & Order," will speak May 24 at the GOP's annual Prescott Bush dinner in Stamford.
With some national conservatives holding out Thompson as the next Ronald Reagan, getting the deep-voiced actor is a coup. But the state party had been aiming even higher - a joint appearance by presidential candidates John McCain of Arizona, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Rudy Giuliani of New York. "That couldn't be pulled together for obvious reasons - scheduling," said Chris Healy, the state chairman. "We thought who would be new and exciting. You make a list of who you would get if you could."
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani remains on top in the race for the GOP nomination and now enjoys support from 30% of Likely Voters. That’s more than twice the total of any other candidate. Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson and Arizona Senator John McCain are tied for second at 14%.
Thompson has been in the 12% to 14% range for each of the five surveys since his name was floated as a possible candidate.
McCain, once considered the dominant frontrunner, has struggled in recent months. His support among Likely GOP Primary voters has fallen eight percentage points since January. His numbers now are strongest among independents likely to vote in a Republican Primary. In Election 2000, McCain did best in open primaries that allowed independents to vote. Then Governor Bush did best in Primary states where only Republicans could vote.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney remains the only other candidate in double digits. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich remains in fifth place with 8% support.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
AUSTIN — Don’t underestimate the political power of stardom, even in the state Capitol. Fred Thompson, the actor and former U.S. senator from Tennessee, officially is only mulling a race for the White House, but he already has snagged support from at least 58 Texas Republican lawmakers. No other presidential hopeful from either party is close.
Much of the credit goes to state Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Rep. Robert Talton, R-Pasadena, who have been promoting a Thompson candidacy and securing lawmakers’ signatures encouraging him to run. They like him, they say, because he’s conservative, independent, well-spoken and comfortable before the camera. And, yes, some backers, including Talton, admit to watching Law and Order, the NBC series on which Thompson plays a district attorney, following several movie roles.
Patterson said 54 House members and four senators — Kyle Janek and Dan Patrick of Houston, Chris Harris of Arlington and Jane Nelson of Lewisville — are on the pro-Thompson list. “I think he is the only true conservative in the race,” said Patrick, perhaps only slightly prematurely. “From a presentation standpoint, I think he will be Reagan-esque,”he added, evoking memories of another actor elevated to a much bigger stage.
The House members represent two-thirds of the chamber’s GOP members, including House Appropriations Chairman Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, and 21 other committee chairmen. The list includes Joe Crabb, John Davis, Jim Murphy, Debbie Riddle and Corbin Van Arsdale of Houston; Wayne Smith of Baytown; John Zerwas of Richmond; Rob Eissler of The Woodlands; Brandon Creighton of Conroe; Larry Taylor of Friendswood, and Dennis Bonnen of Angleton.
Sen. Jeff Wentworth and Rep. Joe Straus of San Antonio are backing former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for president, and a handful of Republican lawmakers are believed to be supporting Arizona Sen. John McCain.But McCain still has trouble with conservatives, who dominate Texas Republican primaries. Some Texas Republicans may still be smarting from McCain’s campaign against President Bush in 2000.
Giuliani, with 24 percent, led a recent independent poll of likely Texas Republican primary voters conducted by Baselice & Associates. Thompson and McCain had 19 percent each. Thompson’s name wasn’t included on a similar survey in January, while McCain’s and Giuliani’s support had fallen since then. Giuliani had 28 percent support in January and McCain, 26 percent.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Former senator, commentator and actor Fred Thompson will provide regular opinion and analysis on ABCRadio.com. The network says the “Fred Thompson Report” will discuss issues and events that affect all Americans. Audio versions of many of the commentaries will also be made available on ABCRadio.com.
Rep. Harwell said, “I have known Sen. Thompson for many years. He is a true statesman in every sense of the word, and I can think of no one better suited to be our next President. I look forward to continuing to encourage him to run.”
Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr., co-chairman of the Draft Committee, said, “Beth’s reputation in Tennessee and in Republican circles across the country is one of tremendous leadership and integrity. She was an excellent state party chair and has proven herself to be an outstanding fundraiser. We are very fortunate to have her working with us.”
The Romney campaign is at it again!
A video of Fred Thompson answering a debate question about his abortion position. This video is being offered as proof that Thompson was "pro-choice" in 1994.
Background: Videos of Romney squerming under the light about abortion rights in Mass. when he ran for the US Senate and later as Govenor. Romney has a credibility and is trying to justifiy his positions by using the childish retort, "everyone else was doing it". The problem is that not everyone was doing it. You have to wonder who was the bright and shining start in the Romney compaign came up with this simplistic analysis.
The key phrase in Thompson's answer is this one: "I do not believe that the federal government ought to be involved in that process." That sentence is the summary of all he says next, and shows he is opposed to Roe v. Wade, which represented the federalization of what had been a state-level issue.
He then says he is opposed to federal funding for abortion and supports the states' right to regulate abortion - both are federalist and pro-life positions - and he opposes the federal government criminalizing abortion. Again, a federalist answer.