I must admit up front that I don't know who I'm going to vote for in the presidential election next year. To me, it seems way to early to even think about the election even though my state will have its primary in just nine months. Even though I'm not willing to go out on a limb and declare support for any particular person, I am intrigued by the increasingly successful candidacy of former Tennessee Senator, actor and radio commentator Fred Thompson.
Mr. Thompson is a fairly busy guy between his duties on NBC's Law and Order and his daily radio show on ABC. He's also going around the country making numerous political speeches and drumming up quite a bit of support for his yet-to-be-declared candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.
Consider two separate polls in the last few days (hat tip to the indispensible Jim Geraghty for both). A few days ago, Mr. Thompson came in second to Rudy Guliani in a North Carolina poll drawing 25% of the vote. Over the weekend, Mr. Thompson won the Washington straw poll.
Do these polls matter at this stage in the game? My answer would be yes and no. They matter in that they show there is a groundswell of support for a Thompson candidacy and a general dissatisfaction among Republicans with the current crop of candidates. However, because Mr. Thompson has not declared and consequently hasn't raised any money it's unclear whether he can stage a viable bid for the nomination.
One other thing: the media has focused a great deal of attention on Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and John McCain by essentially declaring them the frontrunners (and, by implication, the only men who have a real shot at winning the nomination). Despite all the attention these three have received, Mr. Thompson is still faring pretty well despite the fact he's not officially a candidate.
I think Mr. Thompson could succeed in winning the nomination. First, he is a staunch conservative that has a great deal of name recognition. This is a combination of attributes that seems to be missing from the current field. Most of the candidates are either well-known or conservative but not both.
Second, Mr. Thompson is a very straight shooter who tells you exactly what he's thinking. There is no equivicating or parsing of words. He tells you like it is. Whether you agree with him or not, you know exactly where he stands. Such clarity is woefully absent in politics. This gives him an appeal all across the political spectrum that is lacking in the other candidates.
Hopefully Mr. Thompson will end the mystery soon and let us know his intentions. If nothing else, a Thompson candidacy will give us bloggers a lot to write about.