Word is spreading quickly that Fred Thompson will officially announce over the Fourth of July holiday.
UPDATE: Politico has more. Looks like Fred Thompson will form his exploratory committee next week.
Thompson, the "Law and Order" star and former U.S. senator from Tennessee, has been publicly coy, even as people close to him have been furiously preparing for a late entry into the wide-open contest. But the advisers said Thompson dropped all pretenses on Tuesday afternoon during a conference call with more than 100 potential donors, each of whom was urged to raise about $50,000.
And the pickup is coming back
Thompson's formal announcement is planned for Nashville. Organizers say the red pickup truck that was a hallmark of Thompson's first Senate race will begin showing up in Iowa and New Hampshire as an emblem of what they consider his folksy, populist appeal.
Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes had the story late last night. Money is the mother's milk of politics so it's only natural that Thompson's intentions would become clear during a fundraising conference call.
The conference call began around 2:00 pm. Ken Rietz, a top executive with Burson Marsteller and a close adviser to Thompson, welcomed the participants. Phillip Martin, who organized the phone call, spoke briefly before introducing the former Tennessee senator. Thompson thanked the supporters for their confidence in him and talked about his reasons for taking this next step toward an official run. He later answered several questions about his positions on big issues and campaign strategy. Tom Collamore, a former Reagan and George H.W. Bush administration official described by the Washington Post's Chris Cilizza as Thompson's "campaign manager in waiting," discussed the First Day Founders and their role in this pre-campaign effort. And Michael Toner, a former chairman of the FEC who served as the top lawyer on George W. Bush's 2000 campaign before performing the same job at the Republican National Committee, reviewed the laws and regulations governing the testing-the-waters committee.