Fred Thompson: unusual only in how usual he is

Byline: | Category: 2008 Presidential Election | Posted at: Thursday, 10 May 2007

Fred Thompson is certainly taking an unorthodox approach to his probable run for President.  Only he’s not.  What is unusual this year is that every other candidate is behaving differently than in the past. 

The differences began with timing.  First Obama, then Hillary, then the rest of the field declared their candidacies far earlier than in years past. 

Trying to forestall inevitable losses by making pre-summer campaign announcements in 1999 were also-rans Bob Smith, Pat Buchanan, Lamar Alexander, Steve Forbes, Dan Quayle, and Gary Bauer.  The eventual nominees, George W. Bush and Al Gore, both didn’t officially declare their candidacies until June of 1999–and even that was earlier than in years past.  [Update]  Bill Clinton, a much lesser known quantity than Thompson, waited until October–only thirteen months before the 1992 election to make an official announcement.

Today, pundits wonder whether Fred has waited too long to announce, when perhaps the lesson from 2000 was that the others announced too early.

Just as Fred Thompson did last week, eight years ago every major candidate avoided the spring debates . . . because there weren’t any.  The first debate was not until October 27, 1999 between Bill Bradley and Al Gore.  The six remaining Republican candidates didn’t joust until December.  By then, the field had already thinned itself of Buchanan, Smith, and Elizabeth Dole–allowing the debate to be less “canned” since fewer candidates had more time to speak.

Another feature common to recent Presidential candidates is the campaign book.  In 2000, all the major contestants had one.  Bush had A Charge to Keep, McCain wrote Faith of my Fathers, Gore recycled Earth in the Balance from his 1992 campaign, when he contested Bill Clinton who wrote Putting People First.  All but Gore used ghost writers–and Gore probably should have too.

Now Fred Thompson joins the 2008 field with a campaign book.  In fact, it’s written entirely by a ghost writer:  Steve Gill.  The Fred Factor promises to reveal “the man behind the role” of New York District Attorney Arthur Branch of Law & Order fame.  It’s an “introduction” book, just as most modern successful campaign books have been.

So far, the only thing unusual about Fred Thompson’s campaign for President is how usual it is.


Some have opined that the relatively unknown Thompson shouldn’t be compared to the much better known son of a former President and a sitting Vice President when determining whether or not June is a late entry date.  Fair enough.

Except that a certain unknown governor of a small state once waited to declare his candidacy until October 3, 1991!

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5 Responses to “Fred Thompson: unusual only in how usual he is”

  1. anthony Says:

    The Thompson hysteria is symptomatic of a waning GOP. Having no uniting candidate, Thompson is seen as the solution to a losing cause. Bush has dragged the GOP down, and continues to. Even Thompson will not escape the long toxic shadow of Bush/Cheney and Iraq.

    Thompson is not a likely candidate – having lymphoma, the most serious type of cancer.

    ed: I don’t know where Anthony/William gets his medical information, but it doesn’t appear to be consistent with current medical advice regarding non-Hodgkins Lymphoma that Fred had.

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