January 19th, 2008
09:10 PM ET
11 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. Anonymous

    All you out there who think Romney is the "best" candidate, think again. He is loved by the most liberal voters in the United States. Want proof? He was elected to the MA Governor's office by the same people who have been voting for Teddy Kennedy for decades. Fred and McCain are the only two viable candidates to lead this country - from either party.

    January 20, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. John

    Good Old Fred. No money,No Charisma, No chance.

    January 20, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. Dave

    The point of Fred Thompson being in the race was to blunt the Huckabee effect to allow a Republican more acceptable to the money men to emerge as a front runner. Fred split the born agains in South Carolina allowing McCain to beat Huck. Now that it looks like Huck is fading with Romney and McCain solidly out front, there is no reason for him to stay in it.

    January 20, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. Harvey, Tampa, FL

    Re: Fred Thompson is a good candidate not much effort though.

    Not much effort, and don't forget not much coverage from your trusted media.
    Weak effort and minimal media coverage has been his undoing.

    January 20, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. Tom Masters

    Never should've entered

    January 20, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. ne,pa

    He's in it now to help his pal McCain by running interference. He took some of Huckabee's votes which helped McCain. He bashes Romney and Huckabee to help McCain in the debates. If McCain's elected there's a job waiting for Thompson I'd bet. They're two old insiders playing the game.

    January 20, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  7. Jeff Childress

    Most of your comments are SICK. Fred Thompson is just as much a patriot as any other candidate, yet you "Americans" want to tear the man down rather than debating the "Policies"..........YOU IGNORANT PEOPLE!!!!!!!

    January 20, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  8. Me

    I support Fred and think he wou make a great president. My beleif is that we as a country are not ready for someone that tells it like it is. He never pulls any punches and he always speaks his mind. I see nothing wrong with that and like hearing what they think straight up instead of a round about way like the others. I just think it would be nice to have someone in office that is not in it for popularity.

    January 20, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  9. libertyflip

    Let's shove a horse up this guy's butt. End of the trail for him!

    January 20, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  10. Joe

    Bye Bye Loo-hoo-zzer!!! He wasn't sure at the beginning and he is not sure at the end!! We need someone with fire in their soul. I am not seeing it from many.
    Hillary has fire under her ass but she just wants to be president for being
    presidents sake!!!No real plan of action..I mean what has she done since
    being elected to the Senate besides furthering her own agenda?
    Obama...he is not too black...he is too green..I have a dream..blah..blah..
    Romney- slick hustler pretty boy..anybody can cut heads from a company that is too fat...think those people he cut are gonna support him now??? Ha Ha..
    dream on cat crap..someone will sweep you up and deposit you.
    Edwards–wasted too much money on his haircuts...no message..no guts...
    Juliani...Yeah right...in your dreams pal...
    Huckabee...Ha Ha Ha...he looks and sounds too much like Gomer Pyle..
    gahoa-aahh-leay, sargent Carter...shazzam, shazzam, shazzam....
    No... I am afraid we don't have much to choose from this time around...like last time and the time before...

    January 20, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  11. kevin


    January 20, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  12. glaroy

    I find it interesting that FoxNews has been allowed to set the expectations for Fred Thompson's campaign. As I listen to the comments of all of the pundits, I find their lack of critical thinking quite interesting.

    First, they continue to view Rudy G.'s campaign as viable, although there has been no evidence of his ability to win anything other than dubious polls. Even Luntz, the pollster and former staffer of Guiliani during his previous bids has stated that he questions Rudy's strategy.

    John McCain has problems of his own with winning back the hearts and minds of the true Republican base has demonstrated his ability to win a narrow victory in the only relevant primary in South Carolina.

    Huckabee reportedly does not have the organization, nor the money to mount a credible National campaign.

    Romney appears to be able to win anywhere no one else is willing to campaign, namely Michigan and Nevada.

    And yet, they, the pundits, see this as a three-way race between McCain, Guiliani and Romney.

    I truly hope that Fred continues on and demonstrates that he has the 'come back kid' stuff that others are ascribing to McCain.

    January 20, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  13. David, Oregon City

    Clearly, Fred Thompson split the ticket and allowed McCain to win as Ross Perot split the ticket on H Bush allowing Billy C. to win in South Carolina.

    Due to what I now call the “Fred Thompson chicken block” on Huckabee, Thompson allowed McCain to win S.C. with an otherwise 2nd place vote count. McCain’s win placed Huckabee supporters with greater national responsibility than before to also correct the Fred Thompson “Vote Block” mayhem of South Carolina and go forward to win Florida. Now that the GOP has started eating their own for sport and the most electable candidates are defending themselves from the “no plan” “no accomplishment” competitors the last one standing may be the weakest GOP candidates.

    Remember, Bob Dole and George H. Bush got hamburger because the young voters would not or can not associate with them and the same goes for McCain, not to mention the other bones in his closet. That means the democrats will win!

    Not only does Huckabee need your strong support now, America needs your support of Huckabee more than ever! Don’t let the elite media get you down, that is their job. Be strong for Mike Huckabee, he needs to see our support and know we are behind him through good time and bad.

    GO Huckabee! Take the fight to the “chicken blockers”!

    January 20, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  14. Tim Davis

    Vote for Romney! The media coverage of his "flip-flopping" is ridiculous. His decision for being pro-choice and then going pro-life is one that nearly every person must make. What his reasoning for being pro-choice was that he didn't want to criminalize abortion, just like nobody would want to criminalize adultery (except maybe Huckabee). By criminalizing abortion it makes that practice, even when it should be used (i.e. rape, or when the mother's life is jeopardized by the pregnancy) an unstudied and very poorly understood practice making it extremely difficult to improve upon the practice. As governor of Massachusetts he realized that by being pro-choice we were ruining our country. As opposed to merely not criminalizing abortion people were starting to lose their morals and not even value human life. He realized the error of his ways and even though he pretty much knew that by changing his stance to pro-life he would basically be giving up his seat as governor of Massachusetts he stood his ground and went with what he felt like he ethically had to do. That does not sound like a "flip-flopper." Romney is the only candidate that understands the economy and can get us out of our current crisis. Health care, economy, morals. Romney is the man for the times!

    January 20, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  15. NoMoreRinoPresidents

    McCain is a near clone of our current RINO. What does that mean? It means that no matter how many letters, e-mails, faxes, phone calls, etc that we write to this man he is still going to be tone deaf toward us on alot of issues like immigration law enforcement, continued free/unfair trade agreements, etc. At least Romney hasn't been in power in Washington DC, so he maybe persuable. McCain has been in power in Washington DC for a long time and has shown himself unpersuable on many issues important to conservatives. McCain couldn't even tell the truth when he called his amnesty bill not an amnesty this past summer. So I urge Mr. Thomson to drop out and support Romney or Huckabee, but preferably Romney.

    January 20, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  16. James2

    Never thought Fred Thompson was a serious candidate. He spent most of his effort first trashing Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire, then Huckabee in S.C. On the side he just seemed to enjoy puting down Dr. Paul.
    Bottom line, Thompson's campaign was negative and he just looked like an old fool with a much younger wife.

    January 21, 2008 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  17. FredHead100%

    You know what i don't get is that some of you are praising Fred and how his views are good and yet did you honestly vote for him in the primaries?? Because I know for a fact that if people who like Fred and his views had voted for him instead of saying trash like he joined the race too late or he doesn't have enough support, then hello America we would be seeing Senator Fred Thompson as the lead Republican candidate and next President. Gah, you morons! Oh and all you Fred haters, y'all are complete idiots in saying crap about him. You know you're just jealous because Fred knows what's going on in this screwed up United States of ours and has the potential to be the next great President. All those other candidates are pathetic. And it pains me to think that Fred might drop out. Which I pray he doesn't. I hope he stays till Super Tuesday, gains more supporters, beats Hilary's backside, then becomes the next amazing President that this country is in great need of. If that doesn't happen then i don't see any reason to vote in November because all the other candidates suck.

    January 21, 2008 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  18. FredHead100%

    one last thing, if there are problems with the other candidates then why are you dumping on fred and voting for them??

    January 21, 2008 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  19. Cathexis; Raleigh, NC

    Have to admit, I am very surprised that Thompson didn't do very well in his primary bid. On paper, at least, he was the only candidate who didn't alienate 1/3rd or more of the Republican base:

    * McCain: The press and moderate Repubs love him, but they seriously underestimate how much "social conservatives" and "fundamentalists" hate him. Lesson: If you smear your own in a primary (e.g., 2004), don't consider him to ever be a viable candidate in future primaries (e.g., 2008).

    * Huckabee: Loved by Religious Right and some social conservatives, but the Corporatist wing knows he doesn't know Economics from his elbow - and his overt preacher talk frankly frightens them. Mouthing the words is required, they realize, but this guy would actually walk the talk!

    * Romney: Loved by the Corporatists but the fundamentalists (and social conservatives with religious bias) will never elect a Mormon.

    * Guliani: Loved by authoriatrians and anyone who ever wet their pants or got aroused by the words "9/11." Hated by ... well, too many to list. Satisfyingly, his campaign appears to be in "self-destruct" mode, since he knows his appeal to the South is limited and he evidently wants to focus on the less agrarian states.

    Fred Thompson ... love him or hate him - was the *only* GOP candidate who didn't alienate any of the major GOP factions. But I guess the unholy GOP coalition of Corporatists, Fundamentalists, and Social Authoritarians/ Conservatives is finally fracturing.

    Good! We've seen what they can do to a country.

    January 21, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  20. Pam in Boston

    Just because Fred Thompson wasn't running around with a banner taped to his chest saying "I'M RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT" and playing the guitar doesn't mean he wouldn't make a great President. If you look at his record and the records of the other candidates he clearly is the most conservative candidate, and truly cares about the future of our children. Shame on South Carolina for letting a good man go....a true Fred Head

    January 21, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. DD

    Thompson/McCain 08' for wisdom and peace!!!!

    January 21, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  22. Chris in AZ

    Fred HAS to stay in the race! Surely he is savvy enough to realize the only states that have voted in primaries have allowed crossover votes from liberal independents and Dems determined to skew the results! The other states had caucuses, for Gods' sake!

    There IS no other truly conservative candidate available (forget Hunter, Paul, etc.)!!

    January 21, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  23. DropDeadFred

    Fred must exit as quickly as possible. We're trying to run a campaign here!

    January 22, 2008 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
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