Gresham Barrett on Fred Thompson

Gresham Barrett called me back several hours too late to use his comments in my Sunday column — I had been trying since Thursday evening, but a combination of his press secretary being out and his taking a day off led to us not speaking until late Friday.

His comments weren’t all that different from what Larry Grooms had said. I had simply called Rep. Barrett because he was the most prominent of the folks who had stood up to call for Fred Thompson’s entrance into the GOP presidential race on Wednesday. But Grooms was the group’s spokesman.

Some of his comments were so much like the state senator’s that it was like deja vu:

  • "We’ve got some good candidates, but I’m still not seeing a lot of excitement." (He, too, said he had "talked to all the guys" in making this assessment.)
  • "Part of it is his presence. He’s a big guy; he looks the part."

That latter one was in response to a similar question I had asked Grooms, along the lines of, since most folks can’t cite Fred Thompson’s political positions — he’s been out of that sphere for awhile — how do you explain his broad appeal?

For Barrett’s part, he said that after meeting all the others, he went back and researched Thompson’s voting record, and liked what he saw. Then he said an interesting thing: "One of the things that’s appealing is exactly what you said: He’s been out of it." That gives him a "fresh approach," or at least the strong appearance thereof.

As for his views, "He agrees we spend way too much money… he’s pro-life, pro-gun… the things that really push my buttons."

I asked who would be his second choice among the ones already running. "I like all the other guys," he said, specifically mentioning Giuliani, Romney and McCain before reiterating that he liked them all.

But he wasn’t going to cite a backup candidate. "For now, I guess I’m putting all my eggs in one basket, and that’s Fred Thompson."

9 thoughts on “Gresham Barrett on Fred Thompson

  1. Ready to Hurl

    Media Matters reports about Thompson’s “consistency” and “pro-life” position:
    […]In fact, on July 29, 1993, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported that Thompson, then running for a Tennessee U.S. Senate seat, said during an interview that he “supports the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.” In an October 21, 1994, article, The Washington Post similarly reported that “both” Thompson and his Democratic opponent in the 1994 Senate race, then-Rep. Jim Cooper, “believe in legal abortion.”
    Further, as The New York Sun’s “Latest Politics Blog” reported, Thompson indicated in a 1994 Project Vote Smart questionnaire that he believed “[a]bortions should be legal in all circumstances as long as the procedure is completed within the first trimester of the pregnancy” (while also indicating his support for numerous restrictions).

  2. LexWolf

    So what’s the problem, RTH? It so happens that first-trimester abortions are legal in most European countries. You know those “enlightened” places the lefties claim we should use as a model? I even suspect that the vast majority of Americans could live with that approach and it most likely would be what most states would have right now if Roe vs. Wade hadn’t shortcircuited the political process.

  3. Karen McLeod

    But haven’t ya’ll gotten it yet? These races are not about good, solid, well reasoned plans, nor are they about loyalty or sticking to previously stated stances. These races are all about “looking” presidential, making the populace feel macho and righteous, and saying as little of substance as possible lest someone disagree with you. And may the hardest mudslinger and most effective liar win.

  4. mark g

    Here’s another interesting poll I saw today, this one from ABC and the Washington Post.
    It shows Thompson could jump into the race with a lot of momentum. Of course, that’s due to his actor’s status, not his politicial views.
    Otherwise, it’s pretty close to the Winthrop Poll The State ran. Clinton is way ahead, and Edwards, surpringly, far behind.
    Also, Gulliani is ahead, while McCain continues to tumble. (Let’s hear the McCain consultants spin this one.) I think Gulliani has figured out that you can get the Republican nomination and still be moderate on issues like abortion.
    Of course polls are just snap shots, and anything can happen in the next year, but here it is:
    A new ABC News/Washington Post national survey of 1,205 adults (conducted 5/29 through 6/1) finds:
    * Among leaned Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 35%) leads Sen. Barack Obama (23%), former V.P. Al Gore (17%), and former Sen. John Edwards (8%) in a national primary. When Gore is excluded, Clinton leads Obama 42% to 27%.
    * Among leaned Republicans, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads Sen. John McCain (32% to 19%) in a national primary; former Sen. Fred Thompson trails at 11%, former Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Gov. Mitt Romney both trail at 9%.

  5. Brad Warthen

    You’re talking about national, mark. The trends I was talking about in the column were South Carolina. Until we get through the early primaries, I don’t set much stock by ANY national polls, except indirectly (as in, causing a bandwagon or negative effect for a candidate in the states that count). What matters is polls in those states.
    By voting time, I simply don’t see Giuliani winning South Carolina.
    As for the other two main Republicans currently in the race, I see Thompson affecting them one of two ways.
    If Thompson comes in and simply grabs the lion’s share of the “McCain isn’t conservative enough” vote, he knocks Romney out of it and in an indirect way helps his old friend McCain.
    If Thompson comes in in such a huge way that he takes significant support from McCain, too, he wins it.
    I don’t think we’ll know which of those scenarios is likely until we actually see Thompson campaign here.

  6. bud

    Brad, I think you’re being very naive about the tumbling poll numbers for McCain. He should be the overwhelming leader because of his military background and name recognition. But he’s clearly not. That does not bode well for a Republican. (Democrats are different. They often go for someone with less name recognition. Carter and Clinton come to mind). The important question is why the McCain numbers are dropping?
    There is an imporatant one-two-three punch that I believe explains McCain’s decline in support. First, even among Republicans the Iraq war issue is shifting toward a withdrawal scenerio. The State poll about a week ago showed only about 8% of those surveyed favored continuing for 2+ years.
    Second, among the diehard conservatives in the GOP, the immigration issue is hurting the senator from Arizona. Huge numbers of the party faithful simply cannot support anyone who views the president’s plan as amnesty.
    Another factor is winability. GOP voters are quickly coming to the realization that McCain cannot possibly win in the general election where the war issue break hard against someone as adamently in favor of long-term involvement as McCain. Those GOP voters who recognize this fact are searching for a more viable candidate who can take on the Dem candidate with a better chance for victory.
    Taken together the somewhat liberal GOP voters (RHINOs if you will) who want a withdrawal timeline combined with the far right anti “amnesty” republicans leave too few in the GOP camp who both favor endless war and amnesty to allow McCain much hope of victory. Taken together with the winability factor these issues explain the McCain nosedive in the polls. I believe this trend will pick up steam and show up dramatically in SC polls soon.

  7. LexWolf

    I can’t agree with you on all your points, Bud, but I do agree that McCain is toast.

  8. andrew gross

    Fred Flintstone; Fred Sanford; Lula Mae’s brother Fred from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s; and the Freddy’s that dead in the song from the Super Fly soundtrack, all would make better presidents than Fred Thompson!

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