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How Hollywood Does It

Fred Thompson makes his bid for President official

By Aaron Broder | null null , null
Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson speaks during a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007. (Photo: ©Charlie Neibergall/AP Images)
Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson speaks during a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007. (Photo: ©Charlie Neibergall/AP Images)

While most Republican candidates for President sparred in a debate this week, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson visited a late night talk show to announce his bid for the presidency.

The road to his decision was a long one. Back in May, Thompson announced he was "testing the waters" to gauge popular support for his candidacy. Five months later, he says research shows America wants him to be President.

On Wednesday night, while the other potential Republican candidates debated in New Hampshire, Thompson appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Leno asked Thompson about the temperature of the water he "tested." Thompson declared the water was "very warm." As the audience burst into applause, he added, "I am running for President of the United States."


True to his Hollywood training, Thompson wasn’t done making news. He announced again, more formally, at midnight on his Web site. He also made it clear the Internet will play a big role in his candidacy.

"My friends, I have come to you today to tell you that I intend to run for President," he said in an online video. Thompson used the rest of the 15-minute video to talk about his plans for the country. His three core principles as President, he said, will be security, unity, and prosperity, which is also his campaign motto.

He also made an appearance—of sorts—at the televised debate among his rivals. Thompson aired his first campaign ad during the broadcast.

Now officially on the campaign trail for the first time, Thompson will woo voters in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. He then plans to top off his first week with a homecoming event in his hometown of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, on September 15.


Though he may be new to the race as an official candidate, Fred Thompson ranks in the top tier of Republican choices. Popularity polls show him in second place behind former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Thompson’s late entry means he has to build support in multiple states in only four months. (Primary elections and caucuses begin in January 2008.) In other words, he has some catching up to do.

The actor/politician is probably counting on name recognition to help. He first made a splash in the political world as a member of the committee investigating the Watergate scandal that lead to President Richard M. Nixon’s resignation. He also served on the trial involving a Tennessee governor accused of selling pardons to prisoners. He then played himself in a movie about that trial.

His acting career continued until 1993 when he ran for and ultimately won the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Al Gore when Gore became Vice President. Thompson remained in the Senate until 2002, when he returned to television in the role of Arthur Branch on Law and Order.


Scholastic Kid Reporters are on the campaign trail. Keep up with the latest election news in this special report.

About the Author

Aaron Broder is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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