August 1st, 2007
09:08 AM ET
9 years ago

Thompson trailing rivals at first glimpse

Thompson released his June fundraising numbers on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Sen. Fred Thompson's nascent presidential campaign calls the $3.4 million he raised during June "inspiring," a sign that "people are ready for leader who will change the national attitude."

But those fund-raising numbers - from the man viewed by some in the GOP as the knight on a white horse, ready to rescue Republicans from the heresy and mediocrity of the current field - did not blow away some people in the political world.

"You can't make it to the White House when you are only raising $3 million a month," said Alex Vogel, a Republican strategist not affiliated with any campaign.

Another unaffiliated GOP strategist said "if John McCain is damaged because he only raised $11.5 million (in the second quarter), how is Fred Thompson a juggernaut with $3 million?"

However, Rep. Zach Wamp, a Thompson supporter from his home state of Tennessee, predicts once the "Law and Order" actor and former senator officially announces his candidacy, he will raise plenty of money. And money is "not as big an issue" for Thompson because he's already running strongly in the polls, Wamp said.

In a report filed with the Internal Revenue Service Tuesday, Thompson's presidential exploratory committee reported raising $3.4 million in June from more than 9,100 donors, with nearly 6,900 of those small donors giving $200 or less. The committee had about $2.8 million on hand, after spending about $626,000 during the month, according to the report.

Thompson's committee said it held just two fund-raisers in June and had not yet started making telephone or direct mail appeals.

Tuesday's filing with the IRS - required because of the way Thompson's committee was incorporated - was the first glimpse of his campaign's fund-raising prowess since he formed a presidential exploratory committee in June. And his numbers were clearly eclipsed by his major GOP rivals.

During the second quarter of 2007, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani raised $17.5 million, or an average of about $5.8 million a month. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney raised $14.1 million during the quarter, or a monthly average of about $4.7 million.

Even Sen. John McCain - whose campaign has been rocked by layoffs, resignations and fund-raising numbers widely seen as disappointing - raised $11.3 million during the quarter, for a monthly average of about $3.8 million.

The money gap was even wider for Thompson when looking at how much cash each candidate had on hand at the end of June. His $2.8 million paled beside Giuliani's $18.3 million and Romney's $12.1 million, although he did catch McCain, who reported $3.2 million in cash against $1.8 million in debt.

Of course, all of those candidates have been raising money since the first of the year, while Thompson just started in June.

Even before Thompson officially throws his hat into the ring, which is expected in early September, his campaign organization has already been through a major shake-up.

Veteran Republican campaign adviser Tom Collamore - a veteran of GOP campaigns dating back to the Reagan era - quit last week after disagreements with Thompson's wife, Jeri, over organization and staffing decisions, according to Republican sources familiar with Collamore's decision.

Jeri Thompson, whom the former senator married in 2002, is a political media consultant who worked for both the Republican National Committee and the Senate Republican Conference.

Thompson told reporters in Houston last week that his effort remains "on track," despite Collamore's departure, and he said he would announce whether he would enter the race "in the not-so-distant future."

Wamp said there is "pent-up demand" for Thompson to officially launch he campaign.

"August should be the definitive month (so) September can be the month that we rock and roll," he said.

Thompson, 64, served in the Senate from 1994 to 2002, between careers as a lawyer, lobbyist and actor. He is best known for his role as District Attorney Arthur Branch on NBC's "Law and Order" television dramas.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll in late June put Thompson in second place nationally among Republican presidential hopefuls, behind only Giuliani. He runs second or third in many other national and state polls.

–CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley contributed to this report

Filed under: Fred Thompson • Race to '08
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Fred Thompson looks 90

    Fred Thompson and John McCain were chatting. Suddenly John McCain asked, "What in the world is that sticking out of your right ear?" Fred Thompson, with a puzzled look, said, "I don't know", and reached up pulling out the object, then exclaimed, "My word, a suppository!" Then he slapped his forehead and excitedly declared, "Now I know what I did with my hearing aid."

    August 1, 2007 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  2. Jeff, Houston, Texas

    Why does this guy nauseate me in the same way Cheney does? Imagine the evil of Cheney with that good old NASCAR mind set. I feel better knowing this whole campaign thing is slowing down.

    Its the year 2007, and we have no need for Republican, 1950's thinking.

    August 1, 2007 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. Heide

    Fred Thompson – didn't he quit his Senator position to take a lead role in Law and Order? What about the citizens who elected him to represent them as their Senator? Would he quit again?

    August 1, 2007 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  4. Samantha, Beavercreek

    Another thing, why is Thompson not out there more and why won't he release his medical records?

    Have yet to figure out where he stands on issues except he says he thinks the President is doing the right thing on Iraq. Excuse me but most Republicans don't believe that. Guess no one has told him where he stands.

    Thompson will get clobbered in a debate because he speaks so slow and has trouble staying on topic if not using a script. How is he going to be able to go to city after city and meet voters when his wife does all the greeting of voters in the room while Fred comes in, speaks, and leaves.

    Will someone from the media ask to see his medical records or do a story about how tired he gets and he had to be driven to his room in NH when it was a 2-minute walk. It is like his wife wants him to be President more than he does.

    August 1, 2007 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. Independent Voter, TN


    When he was elected in the 90's he did so with the announced understanding that he would only serve two terms. This was back when term limits were what everybody wanted. He did not "quit." He just did not stand for re-election. He was a man of his word.

    I do not support him, but I do appreciate his stepping aside as he said he would.

    August 1, 2007 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. Mary, Holland, MI

    It seems that he doesn't want to RUN for president; it just wants to BE president. Please retire from politics if you don't want to roll up your sleeves and work for it.

    August 1, 2007 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. John, Ca.

    I guess raising money is only important to the OTHER candidates!


    The Republican field needs another WEAK candidate.

    November 2008 can't come soon enough!

    August 1, 2007 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  8. sa, tulsa

    well lets see vote in sen. clinton ubl is still alive and never captured, vote for obama and ubl becomes a white house guest, vote for giuliani and have another person who continues to let innocent children die or pick ur poison from what you have left you may find the chamber thats empty as you play political russian roulette.

    August 1, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  9. Joe P, Wayne, NJ

    Mr Thompson needs to "get off the fence." Either declare you are a candidate or get out of the way!

    August 3, 2007 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Why are Thompson's medical records becoming an issue? FDR had polio and he led the country through WWII.

    Not a Thompson supporter but cmon people..

    August 3, 2007 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |