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

Fred Thompson weighs options

ALT TEXT
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. Don Tquit

    Hang in there Fred, the repugnuts need you to keep the the melee at full tilt!

    January 20, 2008 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  2. Kevin, Seattle

    """Fred Thompson has never had even half the chance of being pResident that John Edwards has and yet he gets lots of time this evening and others and Edwards gets little or no coverage ever."""

    You're kidding, right? The people of this country are too intelligent to ever vote a trial laywer into office. He gets no media attention because he's insignificant. He got...what...350 votes in Nevada? Wow. Lot's a reason to give him some air-time for that. At least Thompson beat Romney in SC, a man who totally smoked everyone else in Nevada. Edwards' best chance of saving grace is being picked as Obama's VP.

    January 20, 2008 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  3. Traivs

    Fred will endorse McCain. John McCain is the only person between Hillary Clinton and the White House, Barack Obama included. Republicans are starting to see that.

    January 20, 2008 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  4. DF Robichaux

    Ronald Reagan was a libertarian also.
    As Matt Townry said, who would know, Ronald Reagan would vote for
    Ron Paul before any other candidate running.
    So you also should get to know what Ron Paul stands for, which is
    the same thing Ronald Reagan stood for.

    January 20, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  5. Mark

    Anybody but George better start looking at delegate count. It isn't going to mean much if you win a State and it is the delegate count that matters. Take a look tonight after the days activity......

    January 20, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  6. John

    Fred should stay in.There is still no leader and he just needs to keep hammering his conservative values. No other Republican has a shot this Fall. If Fred bows out just give Clinton the keys to the White House now and save everybody a lot of trouble.

    January 20, 2008 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  7. Don Jones

    There never has been anything wrong about Fred. He ran a proper campaign and is still the best Presidential Candidate out there pound for pound. An all around true man with grit and determination, Everyone else pales by comparison.

    However this is America, where the man who gets the most votes does not get to be President. Remember Bush did not win the popular vote.

    Well, there is some good in all the candidates. Get a dart board. Good sense does not prevail anymore.

    Don Jones

    January 20, 2008 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  8. nctodc

    Fred Thompson...have you met my good friend, Wes Clark? Seems like you have a few things in common.

    January 20, 2008 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  9. MT

    Fred was probably the strongest conservative in the race and I assume most of his supporters, like me, are pretty strong conservative voters. I would have liked to see Fred's campaign really take off, but it hasn't. At this point I'm probably gonna switch my support to Romney simply because I don't think Fred is viable any more and I don't want to see liberal McCain or Huckabee take the nomination. Romney is not as consistently conservative as Fred but he is clearly the least liberal of those who remain.

    January 20, 2008 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  10. trueblue

    I'm not a republican, but I knew Fred Thompson wasn't going anywhere from day one. During a recent debate, I can't remember which, he came off as comically aloof, as if he could care less what conclusion people drew from his arguments or demeanor. This was in contrast to Huckabee's home-grown appeals to value's voters, McCain's good sense–perhaps it's just a credit to old age and maturity–to remain dispassionate, and the God Father Guliani's constant allusions to 911.
    Whatever it was, in contrast to all that, Fred Thompson just looked like a lethargic country bumpkin to me, so that obviously didn't strengthen his appeal.

    January 20, 2008 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  11. Scott, Milwaukee, WI

    A note to Republicans, if you want a Democrat president elected in 2008, then nominate Mitt (aka Willard) Romney as your candidate. He can't win in the South, as evidenced by his 4th place finish in South Carolina. This would be disastrous for any Republican candidate. Don't do it.

    And please ignore that drama queen, Rush Limbaugh.

    January 20, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  12. markustee

    Fred's not out until Fred says he is out. I am sorely disappointed in South Carolina voters – those that voted for McCain gave the reason overwhelmingly as his being "electable" against Senator Clinton from New York. So, where he stands doesn't count, what he has done doesn't count, and what he will do doesn't count either.

    I listened to McCain's victory speech. All I can say is that he certainly wants to be all things to all people. If that is what makes a candidate "electable", then why is it that we so much despise what they do in Washington?

    The American people have lost the desire to be free. It seems that the voters have turned into mindless sheep, and would vote for whoever seemed to be the winner even if he promises slavery, murder and mayhem, and abandoning the Constitution.

    Next time I hear someone complain about the job they lost, or the fix they are in because of the government, I will not be sympathetic. If we don't vote for a person that can lead us in a conservative manner now, we deserve what we get.

    All hail Queen Hillary – South Carolina, you deserve it.

    January 20, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  13. Connie

    Thompson is not out. Wishful thinking on the part of Dims and RINOS.

    January 20, 2008 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  14. Tannim

    "All you haters need to look at Fred's positions and white papers."

    I did, right before I wiped and flushed.

    I don't think I've ever seen a campaign run on pure inertia before...

    Bye, bye Fred, we'd have missed you if you were ever here...

    January 20, 2008 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  15. charles purvis

    You know, it's funny watching people talking about Fred should drop out. With only a handful of contests run, he's placed third in two of them (Iowa and South Carolina), second in one of them (Wyoming), and out of the three he did no campaigning in whatsoever, he placed fourth in one of them (Nevada). Sounds like a good steady start to me, especially seeing as how he's not swaying with the winds of political correctness and populist opinion.

    January 20, 2008 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  16. Tom Burke

    Fred sat on the sidelines and watched everyone elses mistakes until he couldn't live up to his own hype. Then he jumped into the political quagmire with both feet and disappeared over his head. Pull him out and send him home.

    January 20, 2008 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  17. charles purvis

    You've just got to love the juvenile remarks and bad analogies here, smells of fear.

    January 20, 2008 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  18. Mike

    Fred Thompson isn't a crook, a fake, or a maniac. That's all it takes this year to be the top candidate on the GOP side.

    January 20, 2008 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  19. wmu engineer

    Ron Paul / Thompson 08?

    January 20, 2008 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  20. Anonymous

    The Romney= jobs people might want to actually have a look at Romney's bussiness experience. He made millions coordinating corporate mergers and downsizing workers. His deals generally involved axing jobs to make more money for his fellow silver-spooners. Now he's the savior of the common worker? Please. Anyone but Romney in 08.

    January 20, 2008 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
  21. Dick Biggins

    Fred could never get elected. He looks like the Creature From the Black Lagoon for gosh sakes...and how about that awful and totally DISGUSTING whistle sound his big honking nose is always making whenever he's near a microphone. Yuck! Hang it up, Granpa, and don't let the door hit ya on your saggy, liver-spotted behind. lol.

    January 20, 2008 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  22. lightningrob

    @VahMonter: On what are you basing your Romney prediction? Because he won in his home state? Because he came in second in NH which is his backyard and where everyone expected him to win? Because he took Nevada when everyone else was competing for SC that day? We get that you like the guy, but give the PR spin a rest, will ya?

    January 20, 2008 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  23. mark wilkes barre pa

    REYNE,,,, well said

    January 20, 2008 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  24. Jayson

    Jose Card,
    One can only wonder what type of reasoning brings you to highlight Ron Paul and McCain as who you hope him to back when you are basically choosing two candidates who are polar opposites on their views of what the government should and should not be involved in. Quite frankly even with Ron Pauls somewhat extreme views on some policies his views more fully reflect the views of our founding fathers.

    Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare but only those specifically enumerated."
    - Thomas Jefferson (The same would apply to the rights of free speech which McCain-Feingold so clearly violated).

    "[T]he powers of the federal government are enumerated; it can only operate in certain cases; it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its
    jurisdiction."
    - James Madison, Speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention [June 6, 1788]

    "The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If 'Thou shalt not covet' and 'Thou shalt not steal' were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free."
    - John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1787

    "[The purpose of a written constitution is] to bind up the several branches of government by certain laws, which, when they transgress, their acts shall become nullities; to render unnecessary an appeal to the people, or in other words a rebellion, on every infraction of their rights, on the peril that their acquiescence shall be construed into an intention to surrender those rights."
    - Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia [1782]

    "To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it."
    - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Milligan, April 6, 1816

    It only takes a little time reading the thoughts of the men responsible for the Constitution of this land to realize just how far off base that the government really is. And yet even with such clear supporting testimony by the very men that wrote the Constitution we have allowed our government to go astray on the basis of some supposed living document crap that more often then not is fed to the people by the Democratic party.

    January 20, 2008 05:39 am at 5:39 am |
  25. Glenn, Waco

    Hey markustee, we've had someone leading in a conservative manner for the past 7 years. Look how that's panned out. Bang up job with those tax cuts! What makes you think a new conservative in the White House will change anything? The country and its economy is in the tank and with Bush behind the wheel. And now you conservatives are pushing for another one. You all must be masochists and enjoy the pain because if a conservative Republican is elected it will only be worse than it is now. The economy is headed for a recession, the dollar worthless, joblessness high, wars being fought with no end in sight and no clear goal, and the list goes on and on. Dig this people and dig this good, Fred Thompson would be a horrible president! Hands down! What does it mean to be a conservative in this day and age? Does it mean bone-headed ideas with disregard for reality or does it mean standing in the way of progress in our country? Bush has done absolutely nothing positive for this country and if you think I'm lying, prove me wrong. If you want to see the US be the best once again in things that we should be, then you all need to get off the conservative train and try a new route. It'll be tough for a lot of you because that's all you know and that's what you've believed all your lives but the time is right to change. We should make the best cars in the world, we should have the smartest students, we should have the most robust economy, we should have the greatest health care system in the world, we should be be above the board in all things or at least strive to be. We're not the greatest in any of those things any more and the sad thing is, people don't care. We want tax cuts and border fences. Nobody wants to sacrifice anything but we want everything. Tighten your belts and pay your taxes and cut spending. Billions of dollars of waste go out the window everyday in this country. Demand to know what is happpening to it! Demand it! Vote for who you'de like but don't vote for some outdated idealogy because that's all you know. And if nobody catches your fancy, demand better leaders. Because the US can't be the greatest country in the world if we don't do anything the best in the world. And believe me, we aren't the best in anything anymore. Let's be great. Fred Thompson will not make us great.

    January 20, 2008 05:56 am at 5:56 am |
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