Might there be a pro-gun GOP Presidential contender after all?
Fred Thompson Gears Up
By Chad D. Baus
Gun owners disappointed by a bevy of Presidential front-runners in both the Democrat and Republican camps got a boost in recent weeks when former Senator Fred Thompson (R-Tenn) announced that he was considering a Presidential run.
The Politico.com is reporting that the “Law & Order” actor has moved beyond pondering a bid for the White House and begun assembling the nucleus of a campaign should he decide to run.
Click 'Read More' for the entire commentary.
- Thompson’s coming-out as a candidate-in-waiting will be a May 4 appearance at the 45th annual dinner of the Lincoln Club of Orange County in the heart of Ronald Reagan country in Southern California. The invitation was widely sought by aspiring Republicans, and his advisers expect considerable media attention around the visit. But there are no plans now for an announcement then.
Thompson will also stoke speculation with a meeting of House Republicans April 18 at the Capitol Hill Club, organized by Rep Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), the most vocal promoter of a Thompson candidacy. More than 60 House Republicans have indicated they want to come to hear the former senator, according to organizers.
...Friends and advisers say Thompson has been buoyed by the response so far at a time when many Republicans are openly expressing disappointment with their presidential field.
Thompson has shown well in polls since he said he was actively considering a presidential bid, placing second in GOP primary polling behind gun control-supporter Rudy Giuliani and ahead of gun show ban-supporter John McCain. (Former Massacheusetts governor Mitt Romney, who managed to pull off a surprising fund-raising victory in the first quarter of 2007, polls a distance fourth.)
Thompson has also done well in recent polls in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and California, and is polling ahead of gun ban extremist Hillary Clinton, who has long been considered (perhaps prematurely) the presumptive Democrat nominee. Thompson's poll numbers are exceptionally interesting given that Giuliani, McCain, Romney and Clinton have essentially been campaining for 2 years now.
Again from Politico.com:
- “The outreach to him has been so overwhelming that he is now starting to talk to people to really calibrate what it would take to run a successful campaign,’’ [said an adviser familiar with Thompson's plans.] “He’s talking to some of the top unaligned strategists and fundraisers. He’s said: ‘I’m seriously considering it, and I’m happy to hear your thoughts and ideas.’”
Thompson will not make a final decision until at least May and may delay any announcement until even later because he recognizes the benefits of being “a non-candidate candidate,” according to advisers.
“As soon as you announce, they start throwing spitballs, so why not wait?” said a Thompson friend involved in the discussions.
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width=311 border=0 align="right">Many voters will know Thompson from his current role on television's "Law & Order", or will recognize his voice as the primary fill-in for long-time radio host Paul Harvey or as a voice-over in the 2005 animated film Racing Stripes. Movie-goers have been watching Fred Thompson on the big screen for more than 20 years. The actor/ legislator has appeared films such as No Way Out (1987), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Days of Thunder (1990), Die Hard 2 (1990), Cape Fear (1991), Flight of the Intruder (1991), Thunderheart (1992), and In the Line of Fire (1993).
A practicing attorney, Thompson has been a figure on the national political stage since the 1970s when he served as minority counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities ("Watergate Committee") from 1973-1974. In 1994 he elected as a Republican to the United States Senate from Tennessee to fill the unexpired portion of the term ending January 3, 1997, left vacant by the resignation of Albert Gore, Jr.
Thompson won reelection in 1996 by a margin of 61% - 37%, and served in the Senate until 2003. During his tenure he served as Chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. He also served on the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 2002, after the death of his daughter, he decided not to pursue reelection. After the retirement of Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in 2005, he was appointed to an informal position by President George W. Bush to help guide the nomination of John Roberts through United States Senate confirmation. 
As has been pointed out by numerous contributors to buckeyefirearms.org, the trio who have up to now been considered the "big three" Republican front-runners, Giuliani, McCain and Romney, all present glaring flaws in the eyes of gun owners. By comparison, Mr. Thompson has a strong pro-gun record as a legislator. A 2000 report from a campaign-finance watchdog group, Common Cause, found that the NRA, Gun Owners of America, and the Georgia Gun Owners PAC donated $188,954 to Mr. Thompson between 1993 and 1999.
During the March 11, 2007 interview in which Thompson first publicly vocalized his potential candidacy, he spoke with FOXNews' Chris Wallace on this opinions regarding gun rights:
- WALLACE: Gun control.
THOMPSON: Well, I’m against gun control generally. You know, you check my record. You’ll find I’m pretty consistent on that issue.
WALLACE: So this federal court — appeals court ruling this last week, I guess Friday, in the case of D.C. — you’d be perfectly happy to have people have handguns in their homes?
THOMPSON: Yes. Absolutely. The court basically said the Constitution means what it says, and I agree with that.
Indeed, as Dr. John Lott recently wrote, "[Fred] Thompson has been rock solid on people’s right to defend themselves."
Even in the context of a post-Columbine, mainstream media push for stricter gun control laws, Thompson voted NO on background checks at gun shows, voted NO on more penalties for gun & drug violations, and voted YES on maintaining current law: guns sold without trigger locks.
One negative mark for Thompson is that he voted for (and still defends) the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, which severely limits the abilities of grassroots groups to inform the public about politicians already in office. Thompson told FOXNews' Wallace he thinks his vote was "not a non-conservative position, although I agree that a lot of people have interpreted it that way."
- WALLACE: On the other hand, you have taken some stands that conservatives may not like. For instance, you voted for John McCain's campaign finance reform.
THOMPSON: I came from the outside to Congress. And it always seemed strange to me. We've got a situation where people could give politicians huge sums of money, which is the soft money situation at that time, and then come before those same politicians and ask them to pass legislation for them.
I mean, you get thrown in jail for stuff like that in the real world. And so I always thought that there was some reasonable limitation that ought to be put on that, and you know, looking back on history, Barry Goldwater in his heyday felt the same thing.
Keeping in mind that the only candidate I could ever agree with 100% of the time would be myself, let me say that as a pro-gun conservative living in Tennessee during the Clinton 90's, I was proud to call Mr. Thompson my United States Senator. Count me among those who would welcome Thompson to the 2008 Presidential race.
Chad Baus is a Member of the Fulton County, OH Republican Central Committee and the Buckeye Firearms Association Northwest Ohio Chair.