Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson (R.)set the strongest signal of his intentions to date when he told potential donors on a conference call yesterday afternoon that he will formally announce his decision to run for President over the Fourth of July weekend and could file papers to start raising money as soon as June 4.
Today, Thompson is not a formal candidate for the Republican nomination for President, but he is tied with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Real Clear Politics poll average. Both Thompson and Romney are polling 10 percent. Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) is polling 18.2 percent and the former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani is leading with 26 percent.
Thompson, a former Law and Order star, is rumored to have a wealthy financial network with his strong ties to Hollywood money and a bevy of donors to tap in his Tennessee network. Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who heads the powerful political action committee VOLPAC that could aid Thompson’s fundraising, has been publicly encouraging Thompson to run since March.
Even so, he will have to raise money quickly in order to make a good showing in the second “money primary” when receipts are due to the Federal Elections Commission on June 30.
Since hinting in an interview on FOX News on March 11 that he might run for President, Thompson has been busy delivering policy speeches across the country and writing on conservative websites.
Thompson’s recent media schedule has been packed with events likely designed to court Republican favor. Fellow Tennessean, Rep. Zach Wamp, organized a meeting for Thompson on Capitol Hill in April where, according to Wamp, 53 House conservatives came to speak with the former senator. Thompson also booked an event at the May 4 annual Lincoln Dinner in Orange County, California that was taped by CSPAN. On May 24, he spoke to the Connecticut Republican Party.
Thompson, a blogger, special programs host and senior analyst for ABC Radio, has been publishing both columns and blogs on conservative websites, including Townhall.com.