We'll see if Thompson's candidacy is as attractive in the flesh as on paper, but his expected entrance early next month will bring a geographic and cultural dimension to the race that has not been in the mix until now. It is one that could work to his benefit.To be sure, Thompson is charming and quick. He may not be the "Reagan Conservative" that people are looking for (heck, even Reagan wasn't as conservative as notaglia would have us believe). But one thing is for sure about Thompson's entry into the race, it won't be boring.
The Sun Belt has dominated the Republican Party for the last half-century. In recent decades, religious conservatives have carried great weight in the process that has consistently nominated right-of-center candidates who reflected those views and values.
Neither Giuliani - whose views on abortion, gay rights, and gun control are at odds with the GOP mainstream -- nor Romney, whose position on some of those same issues has changed to adhere to the party consensus, fit that political profile of recent Republican nominees.
McCain's Arizona residence and war-hero background would seemingly put him in greater stead with the GOP faithful. But, his maverick style has alienated many GOP voters who might otherwise see him as the heir to Reagan and the Bushes.
This void, and poll data showing a longing among the GOP faithful for additional candidates, led many party conservatives to recruit Thompson, a former assistant U.S. attorney and Watergate prosecutor turned actor, turned U.S. senator. He served eight years in Washington D.C. before returning to a Hollywood career.
His backers see him as a 21st century Reagan - conservative on the issues and charming on television. But since he was late to get into this race, and has run only in Tennessee, there are serious questions about how well his zero-to-sixty candidacy will fare once it becomes real.
Yet, so far, I have not seen any one candidate in the GOP field that I fully like. Sure, Giuliani is tough on national security and was brilliant in his crime fighting in New York. While I like his prinicpaled stand on abortion, I am not so sure about his immigration stance and on other issues he is something of a cipher. McCain has never held much interest for me, from the hypocrisy of his campaign finance history and legislation to his absolute disaster of a stance on immigration, I would be happy to see him leave the Senate and stay out of the White House. Romney looks good, but I am having a hard time taking what he says seriously given his recent position changes.
Am I left with Thompson. Maybe and maybe not. I am a GOP voter without a banner and without a leader. I want to believe in a candidate, but I am not sure that there is a candidate who wants to believe in me and GOP voters like me.