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January 22, 2008

Carl Cameron: Thompson Supporters Told Me In 2007 He Was Floating Idea of Presidential Bid To Guage Interest in a VICE Presidential Bid


Back in March of 07 at the CPAC convention in DC several former Fred Thompson Congressional staffers told me Fred Thompson was thinking about a run. Some of his Tennessee cronies had been talking him up too.

I reported first that he was eyeing a White House bid. At the time several insiders told me OFF THE RECORD that it was largely a trial ballon to guage his popularity and float his name as a possible vice presidential nominee. I was sworn to silence.

Those insiders have now lifted the conditions on our conversations. From March to August of 07 through postponed announcement days, staff changes, firings, resignations and general disarray the Thompson camp was stunned by the incredibly positive response and didnít really know how to manage it. The trial balloon soared mighty high and he found himself being dragged into a race that he was not even sure how to run.

Even Allah can't "quite believe it," though it does explain an awful lot.

Fred wanted to be Vice President. He expressed interest in the Presidency to gauge his viability as a Veep, and was surprised at how much interest there was. So he threw his hat in the ring as an afterthought-- and as a bit of a lark.

He didn't start running early because that would have screwed over his Law & Order business associates, which wouldn't be justified (I guess he figured) for what was really a bit of a trial balloon anyway. He didn't really get serious about organization because he never expected much to happen.

And he didn't light up his opponents in debates and with paid ads -- as was required of him, if he were to make up ground in the polls -- because he didn't want to hurt his possible top-of-the-ticket running mate.

I can believe all that. It explains an awful lot. Sure, he did want to be President. Sort of. Once he found he actually had a shot at it, of course he wanted to take a stab at it.

But like Mike Huckabee recently said, refusing to allow that he might serve as VP to someone else, "I don't talk about fall-back positions, because once you have a fall-back, that becomes your actual goal." (Paraphrased.) For Fred, the Veepstakes wasn't really a fall-back, it was a first preference. It was the presidency itself that was the fall-back, or rather, the fall-into.

Assuming this is true -- and I personally don't think Carl Cameron is lying -- how badly does this damage Fred's attractiveness as a Veep? Especially among Fredheads themselves, I wonder. Fred's campaign was kept alive by his supporters, with Fred himself barely helping. Thompson's supporters did most of the heavy lifting on his behalf.

Given that, is Fred's thoughtful brand of consistent conservativism still attractive in the Veep slot? Or does this put most supporters off Fred for anything more than a middling-importance cabinet post?

I'm not mocking anyone here, but I guess I am asking the Johnny Rotten question: "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" (Early exit there, too, because, as Rotten announces, "I'm a lazy bastard... this is No Fun." Actually, it's all oddly appropos.)

Seriously, I'm not mocking. I'm not saying "Ha-ha, you been bamboozled." (Hey, I liked him too, though I was a bit baffled at his slapdash attitude towards the Presidency of the United States of America... he campaigned for president like John Winger trained for combat.)

I am genuinely curious, though, how burned Thompson's supporters feel about all this now (assuming, provisionally, it's basically accurate), considering how much money and support and emotional uplift they've tried to give his not-terribly-serious campaign.

And therefore how much juice Thompson can contribute to any ticket.

More: Dr. Rusty Shackleford suggests Fred's supporters turn to Romney.

See-Dub writes how the resume he submitted to Fred's campaign didn't even get a response.

And Bryan recounts how Fred just never got back to Hot Air about doing a prominent interview with Michelle Malkin on one of the world's biggest conservative websites.


As Yoda said, "Do, or do not. There is no 'try.'"

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posted by Ace at 07:28 PM

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