(CNN) - Republican Fred Thompson defended his campaign strategy of conceding early voting contests to focus on southern states in a CNN Late Edition interview Sunday - but conceded the plan hinged on a fundraising boost to his cash-poor campaign.
“If we can raise the money sufficient to hold our own on television…we will win South Carolina and we will be in good shape,” Thompson told Wolf Blitzer. His campaign has struggled to stay competitive on the airwaves in recent weeks, and briefly went dark in Iowa in the days leading up to the state’s January 3 caucuses.
The former Tennessee senator is statistically tied for third, along with Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in most recent surveys of South Carolina GOP primary voters. Iowa winner and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is leading most polls, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
South Carolina is turning into a must-win for Thompson, who finished third in Iowa and is running last in New Hampshire. Last week, he was forced to deny reports he was planning to drop out of the race and support John McCain if he fared poorly in Hawkeye State voting.
”Everybody said that Rudy was inevitable, then Mitt was inevitable, now they are on to McCain, you know, everybody I would come in fourth in Iowa,” Thompson said Sunday. “I didn't, I came in third. So steadily…we are getting to be exactly where we wanted to be at this point.”
South Carolina's Republicans head to the polls January 19.
–CNN’s Jessica Rummel and Rebecca Sinderbrand
I think Fred will endorse Ron Paul when he gets knocked out this week
Gane we know that you are a woman
i'm on the train with Senator Barack Obama, waving to you all.
Gane, Toronto< Canada = Don't believe you have ever used spellcheck! Hang in there Fred, this girl in Maryland is voting for you. "Bay" the way Gane, our elections affect you more than you realize!
Despite the constant stream of negative spin that pours out of CNN on a daily basis, Fred Thompson's campaign is still alive and well and supporting his South Carolina debate win that has not been reported here. Fred Thompson is a great man, and I am proud to say I will cast my vote for him. I have never donated to a campaign before, till now. Fred is a shining ray of hope in this sewer that our
political system has become. He is also the only honest politician on either side in this political contest. The more CNN (Clinton News Network) throws off on his campaign, the faster the little red truck gas tank fills up, and for that I thank you. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink, especially if the water is poluted. Drawing Flack, Fred must be over the target!! Swing away.
God Bless Fred!