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. Jim in Orlando, FL

    Well, if you run out of significant campaign contributors, how much is there left to weigh ? Too little, too late, Fred. On the upside, you set the example of how not to do it, thinking that a late-entry white night can come to the rescue. Rather, "day- late and dollar-short" rings true again. Amen.

    January 19, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  2. Loops

    Fred Thompson, outstanding! I have a great respect for his message and his values. The outcome will never get in the way of the message he shares. He's bold enough to let it be known and I am the better for it. If anything, as a young voter I am becoming more informed and I enjoy Thompson's experience and maturity. As for the future, his message will have a great impact on whom I will choose in the end. I am grateful for every POSITIVE aspect of this entire democratic process.

    January 19, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  3. Danny

    If Fred leaves who will do Flip Romney's dirty work? Oops! I almost forgot about his puppet, Rush Limbaugh!

    January 19, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  4. AJ, IL

    Very interesting results for Thompson. I think his speech today was evidence that he will drop out. He needed a win or close second place showing to still be viable. I believe that if Edwards has a showing that puts him 10pts or more behind the SC primary winner, that he is also done.

    January 19, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  5. Mike, Atlanta

    At last the Florida race is on. Here's where my man Rudy will shine. Slowly but surely the also rans are dropping out. Hunter is out (was he ever in?) and soon Thompson will concede defeat. Then their were 5. Shame that Paul got 2nd place in Nevada, I was hoping that a solid loss would end his campaign. Guess the gambling prostitution lovers out in Vegas prefer their precious constitution over their lives and safety. Rudy is the only candidate that can actually make us safe from Islamo-fascism. McCain would make a good Secretary of Defense on a Rudy presidency, but he would make a lousy president. He's stuck in the Cold War and doesn't know how to respond to terrorists. He won't even consider torture to save American lives. If a nuclear bomb was being smuggled into the U.S. of A, McCain would rather gently persuade a terrorist to reveal the plot. And Americans would die as a result. Rudy would do whatever it takes to make us safe. And that is what we need right now.

    Rudy 2008

    January 19, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  6. Mary M.

    Fred was a pawn for the Washington elite to take out Huckabee in SC. Now that Fred has done his job, he will slip back quietly into Hollywood unless the elite want to keep paying his way to do more damage in the southern states in February. The problem with their strategy is the social conservatives are wildly upset with the chess game that has been played. I being one of them will not be weaned back into their lies and participate in November election. No matter who they raise up to be the VP.

    January 19, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  7. julie

    Ron Paul , go Dr. Ron Paul,
    Conservative, the epitome of conservatism, limited government, freedom for all, number 2 in Nevada, the relovelution is coming on strong

    January 19, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  8. Tom

    He plays dirty politics against Huckabee so his Friends McCain wins and some promises in future!? Clear as sunshine…

    January 19, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  9. Reyne

    I cannot believe that SC would go for open borders free tuition for illegals who lower wages for Americans and legals and raise our expenses as we pay all their medical and school expenses. MClame is a taxaholic who wrote the incumbent protection act, (aka McCFeingold) which takes away OUR first amendment rights to free speech,

    I hope Fred sticks it out and keeps talking up the real issues here. He knows the Constitution better than any other candidate.

    Hang in there Fred and keep explaining the Constitution.

    Did SC have crossover voting? McCain wins only where dems get to pick the rep nominee,.

    January 19, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  10. Reyne

    Please to the idiot at the top....Rudy was supposed to stop the planes with his bare hands? Think Clinton's Visa Express, which fast tracked visas for people and which the Bush admin had not had time to evaluate and elminate. Think Clintons' massive cuts in the military and intelligence. Think 1993 attack on the WTC, Clinton cared so much he didn't even go down there and told us it was no big deal,don't get upset, it's just common criminals.

    (Ithis from the man who two months later authorized the military to kill 85 people in texas-2/3 of whom were women and children, and almost half of whom were black. If you look at the FLIR report, you can see that people were shot trying to escape.)

    Lets see, two embassy bombings, the USS Cole–and Clinton's ambassador thwarted the FBI investigation, but Rudy should have prevented those hijackers from getting into the country and on those planes. Or should he have just put on his red cape and held the buildings together.

    He did get thousand of people out of lower Manhattan in record time.

    As a former professional journalist, I only watch CNN when it is forced on me. They were completely unprofessional on 9/11 blabbing every rumor that was out there and scaring people without attribution, without the most fundamental fact checking that we would expect of a 12 year old on a school paper.

    January 19, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  11. Tired of the B S

    Electile Dysfunction:

    The inability to become aroused over any of the choices for president put forth by either party in the 2008 election year.

    January 19, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  12. Austin

    Brian: that focus group was clearly rigged, notice how fox immediately cut to the reaction of that debate in order to influence the opinion of who the winner was? Thompson was not the clear winner and made no leadership effort in that debate. Such a cheap trick won't fool Americans anymore. Try harder next time.

    January 19, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  13. Kim

    ta-ta Fred. Go Huck

    January 19, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  14. gh

    Most of the commenters here seem to know almost nothing about what the individual candidates positions are. Nor do they seem to care. Good luck with Hillary in 2009. You deserve her.


    January 19, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  15. xerxes

    so long freddy...on to white house for the dems. HOORAY.

    January 19, 2008 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  16. chuck

    keep up the heat.Hopefully you'll catch on

    January 19, 2008 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  17. Bob

    Thompson put as much effort into his campaign as he did his acting. Terrible actor and a terrible candidate. Time to retire from everything.

    January 19, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  18. Lisla Lee, Dallas, TX

    Fred never wanted to get out there and work for the nomination. He wanted it handed to him. And I guess he thought the conservatives would do just that. Maybe this proves the ultra conservatives aren't such a strong force after all?? Maybe there is hope for the Republican party after all.

    January 19, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  19. Frankie Machine

    Well, once Fred got down into the Southland, he realized how nice it is to be someplace where he can indulge his laziness and love of mustard-based barbeque.
    So, his defeat is probably for the best. They shouldn't even bother gassing up his campaign bus. SC is a good place for old men like Fred who just want to sit on the porch and talk about days gone by.

    January 19, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  20. Dallas Steele, TN

    This is a sad day for true Conservative Republicans. Now we're only down to one left in our party to vote for – Romney. I don't agree on everything that either of them put out there, but they're it and would gladly vote for either of them in the General. Best of luck to you Fred wherever your path takes you. Thank you for being in the race and giving of your time and service.

    January 19, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  21. CJ

    If anyone should get out of the race it should be Rudy Giuliani – we have had 6 states vote and he isn't in the top 3 in any of them. Thompson has 1 2nd and 2 3rd place finishes or has at least posted in the top 3 in 3 of 6 races or half. Rudy has posted in none.

    January 19, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  22. Nando

    WHAT a LOSER!!!!!!!!!!!! the GOP is in bad shape and If you think MCCAIN is going to win in NOV bring it on!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 19, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  23. keith Franklin, Tn

    Look what "conservatives" have done for our economy. May our children and grandchildren forgive us. Just what we need is 8 more years of the same divisive garbage.

    Also may Fred have peace as a TV star......and happy 12 hr naps you old lazy buzzard

    January 19, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  24. Lauren

    Wow. All I can say is wow. "Economy Romney" can't even keep track of his campaign ads he approves (not exactly what I want to see as the example for CEO of America (aka President)), and what good is a "tax-cut" when each citizen has a $30k+ share in the national debt and the dollar's value is plummeting along with our credibility? We need to take care of our men and women in uniform overseas and at home, and that includes those who have served in the past... doing that would sure be a lot more cost-effective than this mismanaged war that is costing us a billion dollars a day... Any candidate that wants to further our nation's debt to China (anyone ever wonder who is going to come collect on the national debt?) is a fool and does true conservatism injustice. I'm nauseous.

    January 19, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  25. hawkgrrrl

    Anybody but George – who is George???

    Who can wear the 3-legged pants of the GOP? Here's my oversimplification of the lay of the land.

    Huck – one leg: social conservativism, no economic (he's a populist for crying out loud!), no national security/foreign policy experience

    McCain – one leg: nat'l security, no economic, no social conservativism

    Paul: one leg: fiscal conservative, no national security/foreign policy, no social conservativism

    Rudy – two legs: fiscal conservative, national security, no social conservativism

    Romney – two legs: fiscal conservative, lives like a social conservative but not in your face about it, talks like national security and foreign policy is business focused but no real experience

    If Thompson is out (the only other candidate with 2 legs in the pants), it's gotta go to Rudy or Romney. BTW, people, don't count on the liberal bias media to fairly represent the true conservatives. They want GOP gone, whether it's by them losing the election or by putting McCain or Huck in place who are actually liberal.

    January 20, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
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