Posted: August 17, 2007 3:59 PM
Undeclared Thompson Joins Iowa's Presidential Showcase
Former Tennessee GOP Sen. Fred Thompson has yet to officially enter the presidential race, but he was in Iowa this week, attending the perennially important Iowa State Fair on Friday to build momentum for his possible run. According to the Associated Press, Thompson is expected to officially declare his candidacy during Labor Day week.
In Iowa, he plans to meet with GOP supporters, deliver remarks at the Des Moines Register “soapbox” at the Iowa fair, and receive a tour of the fairgrounds with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. It was unknown whether he would get to see the fair’s prized butter cow.
Thompson’s “testing-the-waters committee” will now be headed by Bill Lacy, a former strategist for President Reagan, former senator and 1996 presidential contender Bob Dole and the Republican National Committee. Thompson said of Lacy, as quoted by the AP, “He turned around my campaign for Senate in 1994 and, as I move toward a decision on whether to run for president, I am confident he will take our operations to the next level.”
As the media continues to speculate about his entry, Washington Post columnist David Broder predicted that Thompson will try to shake up not only the GOP field but both sides of the race by forcing a tough dialogue on the nation’s future.
In the Politico this week, Kenneth Vogel explored how Thompson’s lobbying background may become problematic as he courts small-government conservatives. Vogel wrote that the Clinch River Breeder Reactor, a failed experimental nuclear breeder reactor which was authorized in 1970 and cost taxpayers $1.7 billion, may have helped to kick start Thompson’s career. Then a lawyer, Thompson made connections with two of the project’s major contractors. Westinghouse became “Thompson’s first and longest-running lobbying client,” Vogel wrote. “The two firms ultimately paid Thompson more than $1 million, and Stone & Webster became a major source of campaign cash when Thompson ran for the Senate from Tennessee in 1994.”
Susan Saulny of the New York Times explored the nature, or what Paul S. Ryan, associate legal counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, termed “gray area,” of Thompson’s stealth campaign: Does it present an unfair advantage; is it legal; and what are the disadvantages to Thompson’s presidential bid?
Meanwhile, on the Internet, Thompson’s unofficial campaign site, I’m with Fred, promoted the former senator’s policy positions.
After his Iowa trip, Thompson plans to visit Kansas City, Mo. to deliver a speech to the 108th Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention on Aug. 21, followed by a trip to Indianapolis on Aug. 25 to make remarks before the Midwest Leadership Forum.