Evening Update: Here’s the announcement in Thompson’s own words:
STAMFORD, Conn. — Politician-turned-actor Fred Thompson has been coy with audiences as he flirts with a bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
In an interview with USA TODAY, however, the former Tennessee senator not only makes it clear that he plans to run, he describes how he aims to do it. He’s planning an unconventional campaign using blogs, video posts and other Internet innovations to reach voters repelled by politics-as-usual in both parties.
“I can’t remember exactly the point that I said, ‘I’m going to do this,’ ” Thompson says, his 6-foot, 6-inch frame sprawled comfortably across a couch in a hotel suite. “But when I did, the thing that occurred to me: ‘I’m going to tell people that I am thinking about it and see what kind of reaction I get to it.’ ”
His late start carries some problems but also “certain advantages,” he says. “Nobody has maxed out to me” in contributions, he notes, and using the Internet already “has allowed me to be in the hunt, so to speak, without spending a dime.”
Indeed. For what it’s worth, in Internet poll after Internet poll, you see Fred Thompson’s name either at the top of the list, or in the top three, but as far as national polls, he has his work cut out for him. His entry into the race is going to throw a monkeywrench into the campaigns of the “Big 3” (Rudy, Romney, and McCain) because what they are riding on right now is name recognition, but no real deep affection from the base (does the name Rudy McRomney ring alarm bells or what?).
For bonafide conservatives who have not been enthused with the race thusfar and who have been struggling to try and find someone to throw their support to, Thompson gives them much to cheer about and, more importantly, a choice. I look for some of the second tier candidates (perhaps Tommy Thomspon and Mike Huckabee) to drop out of the race in the fall of this year as a result of Fred’s announcement because money that had been going to them based on their conservative credentials will now likely go to support Fred Thompson, viewed by many as the more ‘electable’ conservative candidate.