More Fredapalooza; Romney's back in the noise

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Columnist Mona Charen explains "Why Fred Thompson Should Run":

The current Republican field is like a smorgasbord at Denny's -- lots of OK choices, but nothing to get the heart racing. That's why the potential candidacy of former Sen. Fred Thompson is creating a palpable stir.

She runs through the leading candidates, explaining how each one falls short: Giuliani, McCain, Romney. What about Brownback, Huckabee, Hunter, et alii?

The other candidates in the race are barely registering in the polls, and one of those waiting in the wings is carrying enough baggage to sink a cruise ship.

So. What about that likable fellow from Tennessee? Thompson is not "just an actor" (though they said that about Reagan, and he turned out OK). He began his professional life as an assistant U.S. attorney, worked as Sen. Howard Baker's campaign manager and did a stint as co-chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee. It was he who asked the innocuous-sounding but momentous question of Alexander Butterfield: "Were you aware of the existence of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president?"...

His voting record is solidly conservative. He is articulate, self-made (his father was a car salesman), highly intelligent, and exudes calm authority. His star power offers him an opening with independent voters that other candidates can only dream of, while his solid conservative credentials will excite the Republican base.

Mark Alexander likes Thompson on every issue:

Thompson's record as a U.S. Senator from 1994 to 2003 shows that he was on the right side of every critical issue. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs from 1997 to 2001, he voted for national-debt reduction, the all-important balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, a presidential line-item veto to eliminate congressional pork and efforts to privatize elements of Social Security. He supported legislation in the interest of free enterprise and opposed many regulatory and tax measures. He opposed growth in social-welfare programs, including expansions in Medicare and welfare for immigrants. He supported efforts to decentralize or disenfranchise unconstitutional government programs.

Fred voted for limits on death penalty appeals, product-liability punitive-damage awards and class-action lawsuits. He opposed decreasing restrictions on wiretaps. He supported increased oil exploration, including ANWR drilling permits, and is an advocate of free trade, understanding well the underlying national security implications. He supported an amendment to prohibit flag burning and voted for numerous measures in support of Second Amendment rights. (Charlton Heston campaigned for him in '94.)

On family and social issues, he opposed "marriage" between homosexuals, partial-birth abortion, cloning, the addition of "sexual orientation" to hate-crimes legislation and legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. He voted for many education-reform measures, including the provision of school vouchers.

Most important, Thompson's support for Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom was, and remains, steadfast. Thompson has the authoritative grasp of national-security issues necessary for a commander in chief, particularly with respect to the long-term jihadi threat.

Peggy Noonan has a general comment about the field which may explain the appeal of Thompson. She says Republicans should stop being intimidated by the legacy of Ronald Reagan:

For Republicans especially he should be a reorienting memory. He was modern conservatism. If they are for more government, more spending, a more imposing state, what are they?

For Democrats he should function as a reminder that ideas and philosophy count, that they give politics meaning.

Republicans should take heart from his memory but not be sunk in him or spooked by him. Life moves. Reagan's meaning cannot be forgotten. But where does it get you if it's 1885, and Republicans are pulling their hair out saying, "Oh no, we're not doing well. We could win if only we had a Lincoln, but they shot him 20 years ago!" That's not how serious people talk, and it's not how serious people think. You face the challenges of your time with the brains and guts you have. You can't sit around and say, "Oh what would Lincoln do?" For one thing it is an impractical attitude. Lincolns don't come along every day. What you want to do with the memory of a great man is recognize his greatness, laud it, take succor from it, and keep moving. You can't be transfixed by a memory. Hold it close and take it into the future with you....

Doesn't matter what you call yourself, matters who you are. Reagan wasn't magic. He was serious, farsighted and brave about the great issues of his time. Republican candidates could try that. If they did, it would have a secondary benefit. They'd start respecting themselves instead of merely being full of themselves. This would help them stop being spooked.

A Rasmussen head-to-head poll shows Fred Thompson beating Hillary Clinton 44-43 and only 12 points behind Barack Obama. (Via Alarming News.)

The American Spectator blog has this observation:

Suffice it to say that a number of folks in Massachusetts and Manhattan and Arizona are getting nervous. Without having spent a dime, Thompson is a more credible candidate than some folks who have spent upwards of $10 million.

An Iowa, ARG has Giuliani and McCain tied at 29, Thompson in third at 12, and Romney in fourth at 10.

In Texas, ARG shows Giuliani at 30, McCain at 20, Romney at 13, Thompson at 12, and Gingrich at 11.

ARG hasn't done an Oklahoma poll since the Thompson buzz began. Their February poll has Giuliani at 37, McCain at 21, and Huckabee at 14. Romney is at 2.

(Huckabee is doing great in Arkansas, but is in the single digits at best everywhere else.)

Looking at all of ARG's state-by-state polls, the message that come across clearly is that Romney should just give up. He is in the single digits almost everywhere except his two home states -- Utah and Massachusetts -- and New Hampshire, where he had a lot of exposure as governor of a neighboring state. Even where he's just into the low teens, he's well back of Giuliani and McCain, competing with a couple of undeclared candidates. For all of the money he has spent, he's not making an impression. Only a win in Iowa or an overwhelming win in New Hampshire (a close win would fall short of what would be expected of a Massachusetts official there) would make him a contender in later primaries. For all of the advertising he has done, for all of his time in those two states, Romney's numbers aren't budging.

(But, you say, shouldn't that be true of Huckabee, Brownback, and the rest, too? The difference is that they could credibly claim they haven't made their media push yet in those states, so they wouldn't expect to see much support at this stage.)

Finally, Karol at Alarming News tracks the tempest over Thompson's views on abortion. A group called "Evangelicals for Mitt" posted an entry on its blog with quotes from 1994 and 1996 news stories saying that Fred Thompson was a supporter of abortion rights at the time, just as Romney was in '94. But an executive with the National Right to Life Committee interviewed Thompson at length in 1994, during his first race for Senate:

[National Right to Life executive co-director Darla] St. Martin said that she went down to Tennessee in 1994 to speak with Thompson personally when he first ran for Senate, and that she determined he was against abortion.

"I interviewed him and on all of the questions I asked him, he opposed abortion," St. Martin said. She told me that the group went on to support him in that election, and his record reinforced for her that their determination was correct.

"He has a consistent voting record that is pro-life," she said.


Thompson dominated a straw poll held at the Gwinnett County, Georgia, Republican Convention. Gwinnett County, in the Atlanta suburbs, ought to be Gingrich country, but Newt finished with 17%, well back of Thompson with 44%. It's not a scientific poll, but county convention goers are the sort who volunteer for candidates and persuade their neighbors to vote.

Michele of Reformed Chicks Blabbing comments on these results:

I think we are seeing the erosion of support for the leading candidates and the beginning of a ground swell for the closest we are going to get to an electable, conservative candidate. At least I hope that's the case.

George Korda, writing in the Knoxville News Sentinel, remembers August 1994, during Thompson's first run for U. S. Senate, when he was running well behind his Democratic opponent. The column has a great title: Thompson and the Hunt for a Red November. That's red as in Republican. How long has it been since we had a president that wasn't from the sunbelt?

There's a lot of interesting news on Bill Hobbs's Elephant Biz blog including a Daily Fred roundup. Hobbs also ponders whether Thompson's surge disproves the conventional wisdom that an early entry into the presidential race is essential, dissects Hugh Hewitt and Michael Barone's analysis of Fred's chances, and why Mitt Romney's success at fundraising may all be for naught.

The American Spectator blog has more on who's funding and supplying info to the Evangelicals for Mitt blog, which lately seems focused on downplaying anyone who might compete with Romney for conservative support.

Finally, here's a blog devoted to news about Fred Thompson.

YET MORE: Robert N. Going says he "likes a guy who says what he means and means what he says." He cites Thompson's response to the question, "Do you want to overturn Roe v. Wade?"

I think Roe vs. Wade was bad law and bad medical science. And the way to address that is through good judges. I don't think the court ought to wake up one day and make new social policy for the country. It's contrary to what it's been the past 200 years.

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I love Mona anyway, but that smorgasbord at Denny's had me ROFLMAO when I saw it in the paper yesterday. Absolutely perfect metaphor. I'm so jealous.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 25, 2007 9:50 PM.

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