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Fred Thompson Still Testing Presidential Waters

Republican Fred Thompson's unofficial campaign for president has gotten considerable attention as he works to garner support. A political reporter talks about Thompson's likely run and how it might affect the overall race.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    If he walks and talks like a presidential candidate, why isn't he? Former Tennessee Republican Senator Fred Thompson made the latest in a round of distinctively candidate-like appearances today at a veteran's convention in Kansas City.

    FORMER SEN. FRED THOMPSON (R), Tennessee: But if we appear to be divided and weak in this nation that it is going to ennoble an enemy and make our country more dangerous.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Thompson's exploratory summer has taken him to the unconventional arena of the World Wide Web.

  • FRED THOMPSON:

    I'm for adult stem-cell research.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    And in the extremely conventional arena of the Iowa state fair last weekend, he offered his rationale for running, an appeal to conservative Republican voters dissatisfied with the announced field.

  • FRED THOMPSON:

    I am unabashedly pro-life. I am pro-Second Amendment. And I don't apologize for the United States of America. This country has shed more blood for the freedom of other people than all of the other nations in the history of the world combined, and I'm tired of people feeling like they've got to apologize for America.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Thompson, as well-known for his acting roles in movies and television as for his time in Washington, has straddled many worlds: as a lawyer on the Senate Watergate Committee in the 1970s; as a long-time Washington lobbyist; as a nine-year veteran of the United States Senate; and most famously as District Attorney Arthur Branch on the long-running NBC series "Law and Order."

    Early surveys show Thompson polling well in critical battleground states, but the "I'm with Fred" bandwagon has hit some speed bumps, too. He first denied, then conceded that he was paid to lobby the first Bush administration on behalf of Planned Parenthood.

    There have already been several departures from his pre-campaign inner circle, and he failed to meet expectations when early excitement about his potential candidacy yielded only $3.4 million for his exploratory campaign. One third of that amount came from his home state.