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."