DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - The state fair is where Fred Thompson will make his public Iowa campaign debut on Friday, but private meetings in the morning could be just as, if not more, important to his ultimate political strength here.
Aides said the former Tennessee senator will court roughly 45 politically active Iowans in the morning sessions - one with conservative activists and one with state legislators and perhaps some other elected officials. (Related video: Has Thompson waited too long?)
In those sessions, as in public, Thompson walks a careful legal line – he can't directly ask for support because doing so would cross the line between testing the waters and being an official candidate, which would bring more stringent fund-raising and spending rules into play.
That official announcement is on the books for the first week of September.
In the meantime, the advisers say Thompson and top aides decided the Iowa State Fair was a good opportunity to raise his profile in this important early voting state as he wanders through the fairgrounds meeting Iowa voters.
- CNN Chief National Correspondent John King
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