Fred Thompson prepares to enter a race where he is polling fourth, above seven other hopefuls for the Republican nomination. What does Thompson have to offer us that is not already covered by the field?
For starters, Thompson was chair of McCain 2000. His vision for reform is similar to John McCain. Thompson did not make much noise as a two term senator from Tennessee. He did investigate Chinese influences in the 1996 election, including the infamous Buddhist donations to Al Gore. He did vote to convict Bill Clinton in 1999. Thompson had voted for McCain-Feingold. Separating the differences between Thompson and McCain is difficult.
Thompson offers up another poised, polished candidacy in the primary. Right now, Romney owns “the look” of presidential leadership. He looks slick, almost a Manchurian Candidate. Thompson’s persona is honest and solid. Because of this, the candidate with the most to lose from a Fred Thompson bid is Mitt Romney. Most polls show that Fred Thompson takes a bite from Romney and Giuliani. The most recent polls show Giuliani at 25% McCain at 23% Thompson at 13% and Romney at 10%. Because of the close allegiance to McCain’s worldview, Thompson does not affect McCain in the same way. However, Thompson does lose to Hillary Clinton in the head to head 47% to 43%. Only McCain and Giuliani show the ability to beat Clinton.
Thompson has some negatives, but they are no more negative than the rest of the field. He is divorced, his new wife is 25 years his junior, he is a dad with young kids as well as grandkids. He was a lobbyist while he was an actor all of these years, and had a hand in the lobbying forces that brought us the S&L scandals of the 1980’s (Of which, touched McCain as well). Most recently, Thompson was on the legal defense fund for Scooter Libby, which may come back to haunt him. His cancer treatments might hurt his vigorous appearance next to a “pretty” candidate like Romney, Obama, or Edwards.
Thompson, whether heading or balancing the presidential ticket in 2008, will make for an excellent contender who can articulate the conservative vision of America. He might make the perfect veep to McCain.