Thompson a Little Closer to Running
Fred Thompson is in the Presidential race…somewhat. At least he took a small step to being a full-blown candidate:
Speculation over whether Fred Thompson is serious about running for president just went toes-up. Mr. Thompson’s not-yet-a campaign has confirmed: He’s dipping his toes in.
Specifically, a Thompson adviser told The New York Sun yesterday, he will announce the formation of a presidential “testing-the-waters” committee early next week — possibly as early as Sunday.
A “testing the waters” committee is a step before the more familiar presidential exploratory committee. It allows the former Tennessee senator to raise money and hire staff. But it also prevents him from doing a number of other things: advertising his candidacy, referring to himself as a real candidate (presumably just in public, he can say whatever he likes in front of the bathroom mirror), raising money that could be transferred to another candidate, or raising money to get on the ballot.
For Mary Katharine Ham it’s about time.
Note Thompson hasn’t even gotten to the exploratory committee stage. We don’t even know when he’ll formally announce. He can build up Iowa and New Hampshire offices, but they can’t do much. He’s already way behind in the ground game. With the primaries and caucuses so compressed any candidate winning early could quickly turn that momentum into a nomination win.
Still, Thompson has drawn plenty of support from only posting a few weblog posts and smacking around Michael Moore. He fills a vaccum for conservatives unsatisfied with the current crop of Republican candidates.
Fred Thompson entering the race means more competition which is good. Giuliani, McCain, Romney, and the other candidates will have to stay sharp, hone their messages, and continue building up their campaign infrastructure. Also, a benefit of primaires is the new ideas candidates bring. To win next November the Republican nominee will have to offer a positive program to make government better, more accountable, and cheaper. He must offer substansive ideas the public can glom onto.
Dean Barnett agrees:
As an avowed Romney supporter, I acknowledge that while this makes Mitt’s road a tougher one, it is great news for our party and for our country. The stronger our field, the more likely we are to produce a battle hardened candidate who can prevail against the Democratic nominee.
The Democrats will put up populist socialism promising more government intrusion in the name of economic security. The GOP candidate should counter with a common sense call for responsibility and liberty. Thompson in the race brings another smart man who will help shape a winning, conservative message.
Newt Gingrich becomes the big loser with Thompson entering the race. Those two were the giants with looming shadows. It may be too crowded for Gingrich to join the race.