The Presidency, that is:
"Law and Order" star and former Tennessee Republican Sen. Fred Thompson is weighing a bid for the White House in 2008, he told Chris Wallace on "FOX News Sunday."
"I'm going to wait and see what happens," Thompson said. "I want to see my colleagues on the campaign trial, what they say, what they emphasize, whether they can carry the ball next November."
Thompson, 64, who plays district attorney Arthur Branch on NBC's drama, said he was pondering a run after former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker and other Tennessee Republicans began drumming up support for his possible Republican candidacy, citing his conservative credentials.
"I think people are somewhat disillusioned. A lot of people are cynical out there. They're looking for something different," he said.
On the issues, Thompson said he:
- Is "pro-life," and believes federal judges should reexamine the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 which established a woman's right to an abortion.
- Opposes gay marriage, but would let states decide whether to allow civil unions. "Marriage is between a man and a woman, and judges shouldn't be allowed to change that."
- Supports President George W. Bush's decision to increase troops in Iraq. "Wars are full of mistakes. You rectify them. I think we are doing that now," he said. "We've got to give it a chance to work."
- Would pardon former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice now, rather than waiting until all his appeals are exhausted. Libby was found guilty of perjury and obstruction in the investigation into the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.
Libby is "bearing the political brunt of something that should've never come about," Thompson said, noting that "practically every witness at trial had inconsistent statements."
Thompson said he was not setting a deadline to make a decision and believes he will not be at a disadvantage if he waited until summer. "The lay of the land will be different in a couple of months than it is today, one way or another," he said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday."
Thompson, the minority counsel in the Watergate investigation, was elected to the Senate in 1994 to fill the unexpired term of Vice President Al Gore. He was chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and left the Senate in 2003 to resume his acting career.
Thompson has acted in films such as "The Hunt for Red October," "Cape Fear," and "In the Line of Fire."
If he decided to run, Thompson would join a crowded Republican field led by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain of Arizona. The number could grow on Monday when Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel makes an announcement on his future plans.
Thompson is staking out some conservative ground. On the timetable, I think he might be a little optimistic. I suspect that he would be better off entering the race at a time when the other leading conservatives - Romney and McCain - are stumbling. If he waits 3 or 4 months, they might have righted their respective ships, and he would face a more uphill climb.
As I've noted though, he would be a formidable presence in the race.
Full transcript here.
Update: The Politico talks about Thompson's strategy here:
Friends who are already mapping out his pitch say Thompson, 64, is likely to assess his chances around the beginning of May. Thompson will have access to a sizable conservative audience in coming weeks as the substitute host on Paul Harvey’s radio program, a heartland touchstone. Last year, ABC News Radio named Thompson special program host and senior analyst, leading to speculation he might be the heir apparent for Harvey, who’s 88.
Thompson sees a potential opening in the unsettled field of Republican hopefuls as a no-nonsense, charismatic conservative who would offer reassurance at a time when voters are craving security, according to the friends.
“Americans are uncertain about the future, and he’s the biggest daddy bear around,” said a Republican strategist. “A lot of people have asked him to come to their debates, and a lot of people want someone to dance with. Is he going to do it? I wouldn’t rule it out. He’s dating, but not ready for an engagement.”
If Thompson is planning to wait before making a decision, I wonder how much has to do with the fact that so much 'talent' has already been hired by other candidates. I am not sure whom Thompson would select to run his campaign, head up fundraising, etc., but I would be surprised if those people are not already committed to another candidate. Maybe he's better off waiting until the field thins out a little, and he can pick from a broader pool for his team.