Last week Milwaukee was treated to a rare event. A White House bid was announced at Messmer High School. Former governor and Health and Human Services secretary Tommy G. Thompson proclaimed that he was officially throwing his hat into presidential ring, a ring that has become increasingly crowded for Republicans.
Many national pundits, even respected local ones, say that Thompson's bid for the White House is nothing more than a lark for someone who enjoys being in the media spotlight and perpetually desires to besmirch his nemesis, Gov. Jim Doyle, on his home turf. Others espouse that his bid is really more of an audition to become a vice presidential candidate. Either way, very few give him a real chance of winning the presidential nomination.
Amid the palaver of Tommy, McCain, Rudy and Mitt there is a candidate who could quite easily emerge from the shadows and nab the Republican nomination ... and his last name is Thompson. Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Dalton Thompson has dropped a few very loaded hints. Most of you may not recognize him with the moniker of "Senator" but rather as "District Attorney" Arthur Branch in the ongoing NBC series "Law & Order" or as "Rear Admiral" Joshua Painter in the movie "The Hunt for Red October".
Many conservatives are excited about a potential candidate like Thompson, who has been likened to a "Reagan Conservative" based on his political views/involvement and obviously his ties to Hollywood.
Most don't realize that Thompson's career in Washington D.C. started during the Nixon administration when he served as a lawyer on the Watergate committee. He served as a senator from Tennessee from 1994-2003 before deciding not to run for re-election.
In recent polls, Thompson has shot up to third (behind McCain and Giuliani) as a result of his brief flirtation with running. Sure, his third place polling can be attributed to his exposure as a known actor as well as the fact that he hasn't had to open his mouth about any issue facing the current crop of presidential candidates. His biggest hurdle, if he decides to run, would undoubtedly be his lack of money.
While other candidates have been actively campaigning and raising tens of millions of dollars, Thompson has largely sat on the sidelines with the Iowa caucuses only nine months away. Additionally, Thompson is a (former) senator whereas a majority of presidents since World War II have been currently-serving governors before taking residence at the White House. This obstacle may be negated with the Democratic front-runners (Clinton-Obama) since both are senators and not governors.
Thompson, who is 64 years old and stands 6-6, may in fact be the true conservative that many in the GOP seek He would have a certain amount of crossover likeability much the same as Giuliani or McCain currently enjoy while at the same time reassuring the Republican base of his conservative ideals. Incontrovertibly, Thompson would be an excellent orator much like Reagan was because of their professional training as an actor.
Who knows, maybe we could see a Thompson/Thompson ticket in 2008?