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Fred Thompson Joins the Race


Actor and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson has apparently finished hiding his skeletons, and is now ready to enter the race. He's widely expected to make a formal announcement July 4th. Meanwhile he's hiring staff and raising money. The Tennessean.com has a nice roundup.

Fred Thompson's red campaign pickup truck, made famous by his successful 1994 U.S. Senate run, is ready once again to leave the driveway. This time, it's pointed toward the White House.[...]

Thompson confirmed in an interview with USA Today published online Wednesday that he would seek the GOP nomination for president, setting the wheels in motion to transform the Law & Order star from a shadow campaigner into a viable candidate. An official announcement is expected around July 4, according to several published reports.

The news came one day after a Tuesday conference call with 100 fundraisers from Tennessee and across the country. The goal was for each person to raise close to $50,000.

repubissues.JPG(Click the image on the left to see a chart which compares former Senator Thompson with the other top-tier Republican candidates on important key issues.)

The Red Pickup:
Rumors that Thompson intends to rely heavily on the internet for low-cost, low-effort high-result campaigning are well-founded, and we keep hearing about the infamous red pickup truck that Thompson used to phony up his "everyman" stand with his Tennessee constituency. The red pickup truck was nothing more than an actor's prop:

Way back in 1996, Michelle Cottle explained the reality.

True story: it is a warm evening in the summer of 1995. A crowd has gathered in the auditorium of a suburban high school in Knoxville, Tennessee. Seated in the audience is a childhood friend of mine who now teaches at the school. On stage is Republican Sen. Fred Dalton Thompson, the lawyer/actor elected in 1994 to serve out the remainder of Vice President Al Gore's Senate term (when Gore's appointed successor retired after just two years). The local TV stations are on hand as Thompson wraps up his presentation on tax reform, in the plain-spoken, down-to-earth style so familiar to those who have seen him in any of his numerous film and television performances.

Finishing his talk, Thompson shakes a few hands, then walks out with the rest of the crowd to the red pickup truck he made famous during his 1994 Senate campaign. My friend stands talking with her colleagues as the senator is driven away by a blond, all-American staffer. A few minutes later, my friend gets into her car to head home. As she pulls up to the stop sign at the parking lot exit, rolling up to the intersection is Senator Thompson, now behind the wheel of a sweet silver luxury sedan. He gives my friend a slight nod as he drives past. Turning onto the main road, my friend passes the school's small, side parking area. Lo and behold: There sits the abandoned red pickup, along with the all-American staffer.

Thompson didn't have an old red pickup, he leased it as a campaign prop. He didn't even drive the thing -- as Kevin Drum recently noted, "Basically, he just drove the thing the final few hundred feet before each campaign event, and then ditched it for something nicer as soon as he was out of sight of the yokels."

Thompson enters the race nicely positioned in the polls, pulling more votes from Giuliani than the others -- and appears poised to pull donations from Sen. McCain's already floundering campaign.

As we wrote earlier today, McCain could be the biggest loser with Fred Thompson establishing a "testing the waters" committee, because he will begin gobbling up GOP money that McCain needs for a strong 2nd quarter fundraising performance. But NBC/WSJ pollster Neil Newhouse (R) tells First Read that Thompson pulls more from Giuliani -- at least in the polls.

In the April NBC/WSJ poll, Giuliani led McCain among GOP voters, 39%-24%, with Romney at 12%. But with Thompson on the ballot, Giuliani was at 33%, McCain at 22%, Thompson at 17%, and Romney at 12%.

Moreover, among GOP voters who said they were "dissatisfied" with the GOP field were initially voting for Giuliani by 29%-25%-11% over McCain and Romney. But on the second ballot, those who said they were "dissatisfied" with the field had Thompson out in front 29%-22%-20%-10% over Giuliani, McCain, and Romney.

Says Newhouse: "So, it appears Fred pulls more from Rudy ... whose support has been buttressed by GOP voters who are not all that satisfied with the GOP field."

At least the race for the Republican nomination will get interesting now. Having a bona fide phony in the race will provide hours of entertainment as we watch the remaining viable Republican candidates saw away at the Fred Thompson legend.

Hopefully, Thompson will do more than just show up with his carpetbag of props and act his way through campaign appearances. America wants change, and if Thompson doesn't engage the voters from day one, and convince them that he's an agent of change, they'll be turning the channels faster than you can ditch a red pickup.

Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Comments (21)


So, since you think Thompson's a phony (just for using a red truck as a prop in a winning campaign), what do you think about an "environmentalist" who owns multiple mansions and flies thousands of miles in private jets?

Or a "Feminist" who tolerated her husband's philandering and sexual harassment of women under his power?

Thompson's phoniness speaks for itself, as it does for any other candidate. Glad to see that the trolls are not disputing that.

Name a candidate that doesn't fly around the country in private or chartered jets. Its a necessity when campaigning - stop being a hypocrite.

As to Hillary's and her personal choices, name a Republican candidate who is more of a feminist -- here, let me help.

Just as I thought - you can't.

And since candidates on the road eat at restaurants I guess that means candidates like Obama and Clinton and Edwards advocating that families gather around the dinner table each night -- they are hypocrites as well?

After all, they are eating in restaurants (out of necessity) just as Edwards is using private and chartered jets, out of necessity.

Come on, D-Hoggs, I'm just trying to get you around to second base here. You still have a longs ways to go to reach home, but make a run for it.

You can see how absolutely ludicrous your position is, can't you?

John in CA:

Lee - you are such a spinning loser. Yuck.

"They are using PRIVATE jets out of NECESSITY?!?!?! HAH! You're a total idiot. Last I checked there are flights leaving every city, every half hour, that carry more than a handful of people."

Having to rely on commercial jet service would cost a candidate several appearances or meetings a day. It would be devastating to a campaign.

I can't believe you actually give these questions any thought before you write these comments. Maybe if you did you wouldn't need to write the second or third comment which tries to explain what you really meant to say in the first comment.

Let me guess, since this is a post about Fred Thompson's candidacy -- you planning to vote for F. Thompson, D-Hoggs? Is Fred your kind of candidate? Just wondering how a smart guy like you views his candidacy.

John in CA:

D Hoggs, the amazingly scary thing is so many people are trying to draft the Goreacle to run for president.

Ah, you're talking about Gore - here I thought we were talking about presidential candidates like Edwards, Thompson and Clinton. My bad.

Gore is carbon neutral, isn't he? - I thought I'd read that he'd bought offsetting, verifiable reducing-CO2 credits?

Doesn't this mean that the CO2 producing effects of his travel are met with the reduction of an equal amount of CO2 elsewhere, as the result of his purchase of the credits?

Yeah - guess I did miss the part where the credits are going into his pocket.

Do you have a link that supports that?

John in CA:

No need to worry. I'm buying carbon debits to offsett the Goreacles presumed carbon credits.

"I'm buying carbon debits to offsett the Goreacles presumed carbon credits."

Ahh, so you've got a link to that disproves Gore's claim that he's buying carbon offsets?

John in CA:

Can't get to the Financial Times article that originally revealed the Goreacles scam. But, just google 'Al Gore Carbon Credit Bogus' and start reading. All the entries refer to the FT article.

John in CA:

In fact, it would probably be interesting just to google 'Al Gore Bogus' and see what all pops up.

I'm familiar with the World Net article, D-Hoggs. The other link is an economist opinion. Yes, I'll admit there isn't uniform, 100% agreement on the effectiveness of carbon reduction by offsets and credits, but show me anywhere these days where there is 100% agreement, on anything.

Whether Gore buys the credits through a company he owns, or buys them someplace else, he's still buying the credits. The suggestion in the WND article that he's somehow profiting from this purchase is based on some conservative asshat blogger's claim to that effect - WND goes out of its way to make sure no one thinks THEY are making that claim - they give full credit for that idea to well-known expert on global affairs, climate change, and the environment (cough cough bullshit cough) -- "Bill Hobbs.com".

Here's the billhobss.com "Mission Statement".

BillHobbs.com is the personal website of Bill Hobbs of Franklin, TN, and is a daily updated online interactive publication of news and commentary primarily focused on Tennessee politics, along with religion & culture, the media and the development of blog-based journalism, and the war on terror. Occasionally I rant about other things. The rants are mine all mine and do not reflect the views of my employer, my friends, my relatives, my freelance clients or, well, of anybody else I might be connected to. Frankly, some of them think I'm crazy.


Moving on, if I buy verifiable credits from you, or I buy verifiable credits from a company I own -- either way, I'm buying verifiable credits. And there is no proof ANYWHERE that Gore is profiting from the purchase of these credits. How many people have made money on wind power investments? or Solar power?

Carbon offsets are indeed pollution reducing, just ask Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (emphasis mine, for the readers with curly tails)

The premier of the state of Victoria, Australia, has signed an agreement with Arnold Schwarzenegger to tackle global warming. The memorandum signed Friday establishes a partnership to cut emissions and encourage the development of clean energy. The pact may mark the first cooperative effort to lessen climate change that links jurisdictions from two hemispheres.

"I am proud that California has earned a reputation as a global leader on combating climate change," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "Engaging in this joint commitment with Premier Bracks and the State of Victoria sends a clear message of international, bipartisan dedication to and preserve our precious natural resources."

The agreement provides an opportunity for California and Victoria to fight the effects of climate change by taking joint action to cap emissions, foster market competition for low carbon resources, coordinate carbon offsets, reduce greenhouse gases in the transportation sector, encourage the development of clean energy technology, develop clean building standards and help agricultural communities adapt to climate change.

btw Hoggs, I didn't miss the attempt by right wing bloggers several months ago to smear Gore over his travel - I looked into it - and that's why I challenged you to prove your claim - I knew you couldn't. I investigated on my own and found that the Gore smear campaign was nothing but bullshit from fact-challenged, uninformed folks like "Bill Hobbs.

When World Net Daily has to reach down into the belly of the bullshitting right wing blogo-smear in order to quote someone -- you KNOW they're reaching.

But do that laugh thing again for us -- you know -- where you write HAHAHAHAHA in capital letters. That really makes your arguments much stronger.

"Can't get to the Financial Times article that originally revealed the Goreacles scam. But, just google 'Al Gore Carbon Credit Bogus' and start reading. All the entries refer to the FT article"

An article that doesn't exist... I see.

Maybe Bill Hobbs has it hidden under his propeller cap?

It is certainly possible that Gore is not as green as he claims he is, but you guys are failing miserably in your attempts to prove it...

... all of which has nothing to do with Fred Thompson and his acting props. As I said before, Fred Thompson is as phony as three dollar bill.

Paul Hamilton:

Wow, has this thread been hijacked or what...

I was hoping there were 25 substantive notes about Fred's qualifications for office -- or the lack thereof -- but it seems that even the people who support him aren't really anxious to talk about him.

Nobody knows Fred's qualifications for President at this point, Paul -- the Republicans have fallen in love with Thompson as an unknown quantity because they know that the Republican candidates they've seen are unelectable. They're hoping Thompson will save the day.

I hope he honks his little red truck's horn a lot - that should scare the big, bad terrorists...

And I just couldn't resist giving D-Hoggs all the rope he wanted until someone came along with an actual opinion on Thompson. The best he could do was whine about Gore's carbon credits, and he used a propeller head as supporting evidence, but I had to let him try.

"By the way, gore does profit from his purchasing of credits from himself."

and there we have it -- the definitive proof - D-Hoggs says so, so it must be true.


lee, i gotta ask. what is your deal with Fred? every post about Fred at Wizbang you have pretty much come out with attack posts calling him a phony, unqualified, a hack (maybe not exact words, but posts to that effect). i haven't seen you be that consistently negative about any other candidate.

oh, and for the record, it's not that republicans think that the big 3 are unelectable, it's that none of them have really excited us. personally i think that either Rudy or possibly Romney could win. mccain is another story, mostly because he has years of baggage with conservatives that makes it highly unlikely that he will win the nomination.

HIs Orange County speech - the first chance that I had to evaluate him, was a total disaster in my view. I don't think he could get elected dog catcher on the basis of that performance.

Steeeerike One!

That plus the fact that he's stayed hidden in his home firing off blog posts and press releases (which were probably massaged for days) instead of standing up and letting people hear him and see what he stands for - tells me he's a lightweight wuss afraid to engage because we'll see that there's nothing between his ears except the ability to memorize lines. Strike two...

and then his video response to Michael Moore had to be the dumbest thing a presidential candidate could do - to stoop to Michael Moore's level.

It's like Rudy or Romney debating someone like Rosie O'Donnell - or Hillary or Edwards engaging Sean Hannity? Are you serious? How "un-presidential".

Strike three --- but we will see lots more of Fred Thompson in the coming weeks and months -- we'll see if he can do better. He can't do worse...

John in CA:

Beg to differ on the video response to Sicko. That bumped Fred! up a couple of notches in my book.


i never saw the orange county speech, but i hear it's been panned by almost everyone. so i can't really speak to that.

i disagree that posting to blogs is staying hidden. it's the new media. i, for one, applaud his use of the internet to get his message out. i've read much more from him than i have from any other candidate simply because i can access it easily online.

which means that it is immediately out there for people to support or criticize. hardly the work of a coward. and given how quickly some of those posts have come out in relation to the topic, they are not "massaged for days".

on that point, i think you are wrong.

the third point you brought up...the video response to moore? i think that a person's opinion of that response is really going to be driven by a person's view of moore. those who don't like moore, love it. those that do (i *think* i have seen you defending him) tend to not like the way Fred responded. since Fred's base is most likely to be those that don't like Moore already, that was probably a smart move on his part.

from what i can gather from your various posts, i think you just disagree with Fred on almost all of the issues.

Lee Ward:

I agree blogs are new media, but it shouldn't be the only means for communicating, and it's been practically that, up to this point anyway, for Thompson. No chance of interactivity, no ability to question or follow-up - little chance for the candidate to be put on the spot and have to think on their feet. No, for Fred Thompson, he seems to prefer being insulated and able to memorize pat answers and not be challenged - that's my view so far, anyway.

"from what i can gather from your various posts, i think you just disagree with Fred on almost all of the issues."

You think so? (heh). Yep - definitely - so far... but I look forward to his emergence from his safe fortress of thought - and his venture into the world where voters and reporters get to ask questions and put him on the spot. I think that's an important evaluation of a leader's qualities -- when he or she has to answer a question without having the benefit of talking it over first with his campaign advisers.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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