On Sunday morning, thousands of potential voters woke to this front-page headline in the Washington Post: “Thompson Adviser Has Criminal Past.” For the faltering campaign of former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, it was not exactly a good way to start the week.
In the article, the Washington Post reported Thompson “has been crisscrossing the country since early this summer on a private jet lent to him by a businessman and close adviser who has a criminal record for drug dealing.”
Philip Martin, the adviser and one of four campaign co-chairmen, has been friends with Thompson since the mid-1990s and has lent his private jet for more than $100,000 worth of flights for the campaign, according to the Washington Post.
In 1979 Martin pleaded guilty to the sale of 11 pounds of marijuana, and in 1983 he pleaded no contest to cocaine-trafficking and conspiracy charges, which stemmed from a plan to sell $30,000 worth of cocaine.
The Washington Post story hit just hours before Thompson made a scheduled appearance on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ with Tim Russert. Naturally, Russert asked him about the article:
On Monday, Martin resigned.
“I have decided to resign my position as Chair of ‘First Day Founders’ of ‘The Friends of Fred Thompson,’” Martin said in a statement. “The focus of this campaign should be on Fred Thompson’s positions on the issues and his outstanding leadership ability, not on mistakes I made some 24 years ago. I deeply regret any embarrassment this has caused.”
The situation is not news Thompson’s campaign needs right now. Several articles have questioned his campaign strategy with the British Daily Telegraph going so far as to claim: “Even Fred Thompson doubts he’ll be president.”
But the skeptics are not all overseas. Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press wrote: “He’s flubbed questions. He’s slipped some in national and early-primary polls…. Thompson has not become the conservatives’ consensus candidate that backers made him out to be this summer.”
Reuters’ Jason Szep reported that Thompson’s strategy in New Hampshire is not working. “Thompson has made just three visits to the state since formally entering the race…. His campaign in New Hampshire is the smallest of the top-tier Republican candidates, run by six staff in a Manchester office that opened just two months ago,” Szep wrote.
One bit of good news, however, came out last week. Thompson will be featured in Los Angeles Theatre Works’ “The Play’s the Thing” production of Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man,” which is scheduled to air Nov. 10, Playbill reported.
According to the Los Angeles Theatre Works’ promotion, “Senator Thompson stars as liberal presidential candidate William Russell. Russell, a man of strong principles, beloved by intellectuals in Washington but sneered at by practical politicians. Pitted against Joseph Canrtell, a younger, less ethical candidate, Russell finds himself doing battle not only with Cantrell but his own moral make up.”
All the world’s a stage? Art imitates reality? Check your local listings.