If you're looking for a conservative candidate in 2008 and my former employer and first choice for GOP nominee, Duncan Hunter, isn't your cup of tea, then Fred Dalton Thompson may be your best bet. Here's a primer that will explain why that's the case.
Fred's a Tennessee native who "speaks Southern," has a very minimal amount of baggage, and he'd be almost guaranteed to carry every Southern state. Although most Republicans take those states for granted since Bush carried all of them in 2000 and 2004, it's entirely possible that some of the other top tier candidates, like New Yorker Rudy Giuliani and Massachusetts native Mitt Romney, could lose multiple Southern states to a Democratic nominee.
Additionally, in head-to-head polls against the Democratic contenders, Fred Thompson is defying conventional wisdom and putting up numbers that are roughly comparable to Rudy Guiliani's and far superior to Mitt Romney's in most states. Considering that Rudy has far higher name recognition than Fred Thompson, it seems likely that Thompson has the long-term potential to be a stronger candidate than Giuliani and Romney everywhere except the states that are probably too blue for the GOP to win any way, like New York and Vermont.
At a time when the approval rating of Congress is at 11% and trending downward, simply not being a part of that failing Congress is a huge asset.
Fred Thompson has been out of Congress since January of 2003, which means that he didn't vote on Iraq, he wasn't involved on either side of the immigration battles, he wasn't around for Katrina, and he hasn't been involved in the scandals, mudslinging, and craven pandering of the last few years. If, as expected, Hillary Clinton turns out to be the nominee, Thompson can effectively portray himself as an agent of change, who wants to run against the business-as-usual campaign of Hillary Clinton and her pals in Congress.
In the movie Roadhouse, another Dalton, played by Patrick Swayze said, "I want you to be nice until it's time to not be nice."
Fred has this down to an art form.
Typically, he's a pleasant, sharp witted man who comes across like a more politically astute version of most people's grandfathers. But, when he feels a need to punch back, he has shown that unlike the GOP's current standard-bearer, he's up to the task.