The Republican Party presidential field seems wide open. Giuliani has lost valuable campaign papers, which might compromise a promising candidacy. He also is to the left of the Republican center on many issues, but his honesty and likeability make up for much of that. McCain is nominally pretty conservative, but he is simply disliked and mistrusted by too many Republicans. Romney is handsome and smooth, but unless he runs away from the pack early, his possible flip-flops on social issues will hurt him.
There are dark horses, like Mike Huckabee of Arkansas or Frank Keating of Oklahoma – both are popular, articulate, conservative and made their careers in state government, rather than Washington. Tom Tancredo would make a wonderful president, but has little chance of winning either the nomination or the general election.
Republicans need someone like Ronald Reagan, someone everyone knows, someone everyone likes, someone who is conservative and – most importantly – someone who would hold the presidency for eight years. What qualifications would such a candidate need? He would have to be someone who is very articulate and convincing in front of the camera, someone who exudes confidence, someone who naturally appeals to women voters, someone familiar with the news media, someone who has kept very much in the public eye and yet someone who has been away from the mess in Washington for awhile.
Is there such a man? Yes, there is: Fred Thompson. He has been consistently conservative on social policy and his help in getting John Roberts confirmed as Chief Justice to the Supreme Court was critical. Thompson has a record in the Senate and he voted conservative, according to the American Conservative Union, eighty-six percent of the time.
Although a conservative senator, he is well liked in the Senate. He also knows the Senate very well, although he has not been a member of the Senate for five years. Thompson also supported John McCain in 2000 and was his national co-chair. He has managed to be friendly with McCain and yet a strong supporter of President Bush. In short, he would be a unifier for the entire Republican Party and should receive the strong support of McCain, if Thompson won the nomination.
The most intriguing aspect of a Thompson candidacy, however, would be his extensive and successful experience as a movie star, a regular on two very popular television programs (programs, pointedly, that are particularly popular with women voters), and now as the replacement for Paul Harvey, whose radio program reaches tens of millions of older Americans every single day.
There is another Republican who did a regular radio commentary, who appeared before the American people for years on a very popular television program, who before that was a successful movie star, and who had left politics for several years before running for president. Who? Ronald Reagan, of course. He spoke to the American people with a radio commentary during the years between his defeat for the 1976 nomination and his run for the 1980 nomination. He was on General Electric Theater, a highly rated show, for years before entering politics. President Reagan honed his skills as a communicator at every single level.
Fred Thompson would naturally appeal to a couple of voting groups who do not naturally gravitate to Republican candidates: women who watch Law & Order, senior citizens who listen to and trust Paul Harvey, and young voters who have seen his many action movies. Fred Thompson also is an impressive and brilliant communication. He also exudes a confidence and a leadership which people naturally seek in a president in troubled times.
Would Thompson run? He originally intended to run for re-election in 2002, but the death of his daughter caused him to reconsider. Thompson obviously does not “need” to be president to feel fulfilled in his life, but that is the very thing which most Americans want – someone, like Ronald Reagan, who actually wants to be president in order to serve his country and not his ego. It certainly seems that Fred Thompson cares about the future of America and he is clearly energetic and active enough to make a presidential run.
Would Thompson win? Today people are identified by image not policy briefs, Fred Thompson of Law & Order fame has the permanent image as a “good guy” to America. If his opponents complained that he was “just an actor,” then Thompson could easily answer “Yes, just like Ronald Reagan was just an actor” (and no one says today that Ronald Reagan was a bad president.) He might run and he could easily win. After that, this well liked and brilliant actor might be the next Reagan.
Bruce Walker has been a published author in print and in electronic media since 1990. He is a regular contributor to WebCommentary, Conservative Truth, American Daily, Enter Stage Right, Intellectual Conservative, NewsByUs and MenÕs News Daily. His first book, Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie by Outskirts Press was published in January 2006.