Watch Thompson's announcement video.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Promising "common sense conservative positions," former Sen. Fred Thompson declared Wednesday he is running for president in a video posted at midnight on his website.
Hours earlier he told Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" he was going to seek the GOP presidential nomination.
"My friends, I come to you today to tell you that I intend to run for President," Thompson said in the video message that ran for about 14 minutes. "I feel deeply that I am doing it for the right reasons. I love my country and I am concerned about its future."
He added, "I'm going to give this campaign all that I have to give, and I hope that you will join me."
Thompson sought to demonstrate his conservative credentials by saying he was tough on national security, while serving in the Senate and calling "the great truth" that "every life matters." Trying to sound diplomatic at the same time, he also preached reaching across the aisle to work together to solve America's problems.
"These problems will be dealt with when our leaders come together, as adults, and honestly seek solutions that extend past the next election cycle," Thompson said. "That will happen when, and only when, the American people demand it. You can do that at the ballot box and no election is more important than the one for president."
He described himself as "blessed" when talking about his family and noted that he has lived an "American story," going from working graveyard shifts at a factory to earning a high salary on a top-rated television show. Thompson said when making his decision to run for president, he based it on the answers to two questions.
"What kind of country are our children, grandchildren going to grow up in. And second, how many people have the opportunity to do something about it."
But Thompson couldn't refrain from using the Clintons' name as a rallying point for Republican voters. He mentioned the 1994 election, when Bill Clinton was in the White House and Republicans swept Democrats out of power in the House and Senate.
"In 1994 our conservative principles led us to a comeback and majority control of the Congress," Thompson said. "Now you don't want to have to come back from another Clinton victory. Our country needs us to win next year, and I am ready to lead that effort."
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
Thompson announced his candidacy at the same time a Republican debate was taking place in New Hampshire.
– CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
the only one that makes any sense out of the GOP is Ron Paul.... oh Freddie what a joke u r....
Who cares about conservatives after several years of them we all see what a corrupt bunch thieves they are anyone would be a fool to vote for a republican I know the dems are far from perfect BUT they seem to be a lot less hypocritical, judgemental, and corrupt..I say give the dems the same chance given to the GOP for 8+ years and if things don't get better vote the hypocrites/religous right back in office.
This man has the values of the Republican party. You could be looking at our next president.
Values? You say this guy has values??? Remember Watergate?? WOW! How easily you have been fooled. He is an ACTOR! He'll say whatever is read to him! Do you really want to replace a Lame Duck with a Puppet? Come on America!! WAKE UP!!!!!
He's 'tested the waters' for so long that a DIVE has been out of the question for months! He's barely dipped his toes in and has yet to get ankle deep...unless 'debating' with Leno counts!
We don't want another ACTOR who can't take any decisions without consulting his wife. Go back to your studio and rehearse the lines given to you by the director.
Now from stage right (way right) comes Freddie Thompson as the republican savior... American voters are looking for a smart hard worker ready instead of someone pretending to lead such as Bush. Unfortunately for him, he is neither. He just wants to lazily ride the cushy talk show couch into the White House.
This guy is a homo-phobe, antigay, antigay marriage, and therefore, is unfit to be president. He's a baffoon and anyone who votes for him is sealing the coffin on this country. If he's president, I'm sending for my papers to move to Canada, or even England!
GO FRED GO!
All I hear are a bunch of Dems playing their regular game of total disregard and insulting one of our citizens.
I see fear in their comments.
I support Fred Thompson.!
Whos next Toby Keith? I just love Republicans.
Headline: Fred Thompson dives into presidential race.
Yup. Face first............
It's amazing how petrafied these candidates are of Hillary.
Freddie boy just came out and is already pointing at her, funny.
By the way, I wonder what Karl has been up to lately. Don't go believing he just went back to Texas to go hunting and spend time with the family.
Hey FPohl, I don't think the Dems sling any more insults than Reps. I always hear the complaints about Clinton, but never any details. You obviously don't remember the eight years and millions spent wasted to find out Bill had an affair. Atleast he didn't hang out in men's bathrooms and/or with young Whitehouse pages. Give me a break. The republicans need an actor to present the BS on their agenda and make it sound good for us..