January 19th, 2008
09:10 PM ET
6 years ago

Fred Thompson weighs options

Will Fred Thompson stay in the presidential race? (Photo Credit: AP)

(CNN) - After a weak showing in the South Carolina primary, Fred Thompson gave a wistful speech to supporters, telling them "we'll always stand strong together."

Thompson had staked his campaign on a strong finish in the Republican primary here.

While he remains in the race, two sources told CNN that "it was abundantly evident to all of us" that the bar was a win or a very competitive second place in South Carolina to continue to be viable in the GOP presidential race.

Thompson has no public schedule Sunday, and is planning to consult with campaign manager Bill Lacy and other top advisers about the next move.

"We are not blind to the obvious," said one senior campaign adviser.

But, given the muddled course of the Republican race so far, both aides said Thompson and his advisers wanted to watch the results come in tonight before making a final decision.

Related video: Watch Thompson's S.C. concession speech

–CNN's John King, Candy Crowley, and Gloria Borger contributed to this report

Filed under: Fred Thompson
soundoff (148 Responses)
  1. Thompson Dude

    Thompson should have won this contest hands down! Both McCain and the huckter are liberals. Romney and Rudy are liberals also. I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. We need a conservative in the race I hope Thompson doesn't drop out. Geez. I can't vote for those flip flppers. Thompson equaled my aspirations of what a real conservative candidate should be. I have been reading up on Ron Paul. I guess if Thompson drops because of this poor showing. Ron Paul is the only other real conservative out there. I sure as heck am not going to vote for the (Three Stooges) liberals. Hilary, Barack, and Edwards. Begging for a real conservative!!!!

    January 19, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  2. Tom, Boston MA


    January 19, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  3. Anbody but George

    Are people serious about Thompson endorsing Romney? Fred was very close to McCain during their years together in the Senate. And Fred ENDORSED McCain for the nomination in 2000. It will take a miracle for Romney to get the nomination. But if he does, Mitt will be a 40-state loser; McCain would be stronger candidate A perfect storm is brewing for Republicans; it will be like 1932. Any Democrat will beat any Republican.

    January 19, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  4. Micks

    His spot on Law&Order has already been filled, but he would be good on The Sarah Connor Chronicles, he could be the boss of the FBI agent that's on the tail of Sarah and John Connor.

    He has a hot wife, so I doubt he's too broken up about losing.

    January 19, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  5. T

    Which is more likely: McCain/Huckabee or McCain/Romney? Because let's be honest, we all know how this is going to turn out. Nobody was even contesting Nevada because it's 25% Mormon. That win means nothing.

    January 19, 2008 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  6. NoMoreRinoPresidents

    Mr. Thompson,

    You are a respectable candidate, and I'd vote for you; However, the greater concern know is keeping RINO McCain from becoming the Republican Presidential nominee, so I urge you to drop out of the race and support Romney.


    January 19, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  7. ryan

    mccain 2000 is diffrent than the mccain 2008!!!!

    January 19, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  8. Jack from Ft. Worth

    What does he expect with the comments he made about the Confederate flag?

    January 19, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  9. Rexus

    @ Michelle Doyle:
    So it is better to be brainwashed by the reactionary, corporatist, mud slinging, mind owning (neo)conservative mainstream media?

    @ Anybody but George:
    Thompson might drop out in a couple of weeks. I think you may be right about him endorsing McCain. As it stands, this is fast becoming a race between three Hares and one Tortoise. I think we all know who the tortoise is, and just line in Aesop's fable, the hares will not win (the election). The tortoise might not either, but he is the only one with a real chance.

    January 19, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  10. Mike NY

    I like where Thompson stands but his apparent total lack of enthusiasm did nothing for him. He should have had a much stronger showing in Iowa and S.C. I think he is the only true conservative in the bunch, but Romney's the best of what's left. Huckabee has no shot on a national stage. he'd get creamed by Hilary or Obama in Florida and Ohio, and as 2000 and 2004 indicated, those are the only two states consistently in play these days that are needed to win the Presidency. McCain is too negative on the economy and to weak on immigration, Giuliani is too liberal. We're stuck with a moderate in Romney but that appears like the best we're going to do. At least he should be able to win Florida and he might put Michigan in play.

    January 19, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  11. Jake

    Fred ran a decent campaign, too bad South Carolina didn't pan out for him. Just like South Carolina couldn't save Thompson's campaign, I don't think Florida will save Guiliani's (especially given the fact that that Dr. Paul has trounced him in every single state primary so far).

    I do think that Thompson enjoyed overly generous media exposure early on when he was contemplating running. But I enjoyed listening to him in the New Hampshire ABC debate and I think he has some good things to say.

    The big question is who Thompson will endorse now that he's likely to pull out of the race (also, who will Guiliani endorse if he fails to win Florida?). I'd like to see Thompson throw his weight behind Ron Paul because I think they are on the same page when it comes to taxes and limited government.

    January 19, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  12. Phil Memphis, TN

    You mean this guy was running?

    January 19, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  13. Josh from Louisiana

    McCain – Thompson in '08!!!

    January 19, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  14. Freds the Man

    Fred is not dropping out. Why should he? Has even one/eighth of the country spoken? Fred is conservative on ALL the issues, not just a few cherries. Why hold your nose to vote for a liberal-wannabe that is *better* on ONE issue? Nope, FRED all the way, even if I have to do it by write-in. The MSM and the internet bloggers who keep up this "he's dropping out" meme can kiss off.

    January 19, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  15. AnotherNeoConGone

    Once Fred Quits there are plenty more NAU NeoCons still in the race.

    January 19, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  16. Eric in SLC

    I'm still shocked at commenters who buy Romney's words. That dude is good at telling you what you want to hear. "Jobs good, amnesty bad." Now you should love me too. Nevermind that Romney has said that mass deportation is not feasible, and that comprehensive plans are reasonable and not amnesty. Talk by the polls and don't take any action with political risk. That's character.

    Thompson wasn't my favorite, but at least he's the most genuine GOP/Reaganite of the bunch. Probably would make an okay president, but too many people want salesmen.

    January 19, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  17. VahMonter

    Mitt is going to be the party nominee. This ex-MA governor would meet the same fate but can save himself by having Fred as his running mate. Thompson will endorse Romney within days.

    January 19, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  18. T Harden

    McCain is a liberal and Hucakphony is a liberal. They will do anything to be elected. They will say anything to be elected. The straight talk express has been derailed. The Huckabee gospel has been perverted.

    Wake up Republicans!!!!!!!!!!

    McCain and Huckabee will destroy the party. They are left of GW Bush.

    If I am going to vote for a liberal, then I will vote for an authentic one, like Clinton, Obama or Edwards. At least they make no bones about there positions.

    There has to be contrast in the upcoming election. When people see a bunch of liberals like Huckabee, McCain, Clinton, or Obama debating they will want the more authentic liberal.

    January 19, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  19. Independent

    I am an independent voter. Not looking for a super-conservative like Thompson, not looking for a super-liberal like Obama or Edwards and not looking for someone too radical to get any of his agenda realing accomplished (Ron Paul). I want to see McCain, and if he wants to beat best of the too far left Hillary Clinton, I want to see McCain/Lieberman 2008. That is the ticket for the future that will keep the Middle East in one piece, fix the economy and bring cooperative politics back to Washington. McCain/Lieberman all the way!!!

    January 19, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  20. Brian

    Hey wait a minute... wasn't Thompson the all-around "favorite" of the Fox News studio focus group during the SC debate? Hmm.

    January 19, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  21. Lisa Ray

    Tonight Thompson played the media like the fools they are. They were salivating at the thought of a concession speech but wound up televising an inspiring reminder of why we asked him to run in the first place!

    We're with you Fred and will be for as long as you see fit because REAL Conservatives don't believe our Constitution is a "living, breathing document"!!!

    January 19, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  22. 50 states, not 5

    Ronald Reagan lost 11 primaries before getting his first win. Stay strong, Fred Thompson will prevail.

    January 19, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  23. Billy

    Fred needs to get out! He has proved to be a terrible candidate.

    January 19, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  24. TH

    As a consertative voter I refuse to hold my nose and pick the lesser of the two evils. As Fred goes so does my vote, I will not vote for any of the RINOS whomever it is that gets the nomination. If a Democrat wins so be it.

    January 19, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  25. Blubakhe

    That's one "Constitution Hater" down. In fact, it's the most virulent, the most vehement, the most explicit "Constitution Hater" down for the count. Which is exactly where this opaque milquetoast belongs. He's as bad at articulating anti-Constitution sentiment as he is at acting.

    January 19, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
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