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Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, Newt Gingrich, John McCain, Sam Brownback, James Gilmore, Chuck Hagel, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, Ron Paul, Michael Savage, Tommy Thompson, Hugh Cort, John Cox.
There’s no shortage of candidates running – or talking about running – for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
It would seem there is something for everyone.
Yet, when former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee casually mentioned he “might” be interested in throwing his hat into the ring this summer, it seemed to rekindle hope under Republicans ever-seeking the next Ronald Reagan.
The Internet especially is abuzz with new political excitement.
A movement to draft Thompson got started. Or, more precisely, several such movements got started.
The best-known was formed by two prominent members of the Tennessee congressional delegation – Reps. Zach Wamp and John J. Duncan, Jr. They will serve as co-chairmen of the “”Draft Fred Thompson 2008″ committee.
But there are a number of other ad hoc draft Thompson groups and websites springing up from coast to coast.
“It is becoming increasingly obvious that a growing number of Americans want Fred Thompson to join the 2008 presidential campaign,” said Wamp. “Senator Thompson’s ability to communicate an optimistic vision for America, coupled with his strong conservative credentials, makes him an ideal choice for thousands of our fellow citizens.”
For sure, Thompson seems to be exciting the Republican base in Tennessee. His political mentor, former Senate minority leader Howard Baker, has signed on in support. Sen. Bill Frist, former Senate majority leader, who considered a presidential run himself, has said he would support a Thompson bid.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the first Republican in that office since 1867, has joined the draft Thompson movement.
A third representative from Tennessee, freshman David Davis, also has agreed to become a member of the committee, according to Wamp and Duncan.
Thompson plans to travel to Washington April 18 to meet with 40-members of Congress interested in a Thompson campaign.
The co-chairmen said they believed scores of other prominent leaders from Tennessee and across the country will be joining the draft movement in the next several weeks.
“I believe that thousands of Americans from every walk of life will join this grass-roots effort,” Duncan said. “They will help us send a clear message to Senator Thompson that he should take the next step and announce his candidacy.”
Wamp said Thompson “personifies strength and trust. His charisma, eloquence and exemplary public service have inspired Tennesseans and Americans alike. When I ask my conservative colleagues in Congress if Fred should run, it’s like setting off fireworks above the Capitol.”
Indeed, this is not a movement confined to Tennessee. Just yesterday, for instance, Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom began a statewide effort to encourage Thompson to get into the race.
“Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom believes that the political and professional background and aura of Fred Thompson makes him an ideal candidate to continue the Reagan Era legacy,” said Doug Kagan, chairman of the group. “We are starting a ‘Draft Fred Thompson for President’ effort in Nebraska to encourage him to announce his candidacy.
According to an active member of the movement, there are now more than 4,000 volunteers in all 50 states ready to work full-time to make Thompson the next president. An additional 6,000 are expected shortly.
One of the reasons a Thompson candidacy is so appealing is because of his successful career in Hollywood. His ability to perform reminds many of the overwhelming support Ronald Reagan had from both Republicans and Democrats.
Thompson first came to the nation’s attention 35 years ago when he served as minority counsel on the Senate Watergate Committee. His visibility and personality, first on display in those nationally televised hearings, launched him into acting.
He is perhaps most well-known for his role as the chief district attorney in “Law and Order.”
Like Reagan, the entertainment career led to the political career. He filled Al Gore’s vacated Senate seat in 1992 – a seat once held by Baker.
His 6-foot 4-inch body, his deep rich voice and his country wit and wisdom immediately convinced many he was presidential timber.
Recently, Thompson has been sitting in for the aging radio institution known as Paul Harvey. The daily short-form program has familiarized him to millions of Americans who listen to it. It was short-form radio that also gave Ronald Reagan the opportunity to share his views with Americans from coast to coast.
Can lightning strike twice?
Can an actor reunite the Republican Party behind a conservative candidate known for his communication ability?
Some Republicans just can’t wait to find out.