ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - Thompson gave a considerably better speech than he ever delivered on his own behalf during the primary season. He was certainly a lot more animated.
His attack on Obama – that he delivered a “teleprompter speech designed to appeal to America’s critics” abroad – brought the crowd to its feet.
The themes they’re stressing are character, judgment, leadership – all personal qualities. Republicans believe they can win the election on McCain’s personal qualities – because they’re not going to win on policy.
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - Thompson asked rhetorical questions about John McCain: Who is this man? And can we trust him with the presidency?
Unstated: those are the big questions that people have asked about Barack Obama.
More and more Americans do believe we’re winning in Iraq, but the issue has now receded in importance in the public mind – and they now believe Barack Obama can handle the war just as well as John McCain.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/16/art.mccain.6.16.jpg caption="McCain's campaign has accused Obama of maintaining a 'September 10th mindset.'"](CNN) - John McCain and the Republican National Committee have issued sharp words for Barack Obama this week after Obama suggested in an interview that the United States can combat terrorism "within the constraints of the Constitution."
One McCain adviser said such comments demonstrate Obama’s foreign policy "weakness" and his "September 10th mindset."
But in consecutive days, the McCain campaign has attacked Obama's so-called "law enforcement approach" by offering up a pair of high-profile Republican surrogates who themselves have appeared to favor legal avenues for prosecuting terrorists.
The McCain campaign pressed their case against Obama on Thursday by convening a conference call with former GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson.
Thompson accused Obama of being "inconsistent on matters of national security and foreign policy" and criticized Obama's support for last week's milestone Supreme Court ruling, which determined that terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay should be granted habeas corpus rights.
But during Thompson’s presidential run, he also appeared to support legal pathways if Osama bin Laden were captured.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/06/mccain.thompson.jpg caption="Fred Thompson joined John McCain on the campaign trail Tuesday."]
WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (CNN) - Fred Thompson made his first public appearance since dropping out of the presidential race Tuesday, using his conservative credentials to backstop a major speech Tuesday from presumptive Republican nominee John McCain on judicial appointments.
Thompson, seated behind McCain on stage and rocking back in his arm chair, grinned as McCain called him “an old and very dear friend” and made a few light-hearted references to Thompson’s acting resume.
“I know exam week involves some tough moments,” McCain told students in the audience at Wake Forest University. “Like when you're up at 3:00 a.m. and have to choose between studying or watching one of Fred's old movies.”
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/03/25/art.thompson.gi.jpg caption=" Thompson is looking to head back to Hollywood."](CNN) - Two months after early primary voters put an end to his short-lived presidential bid, Fred Thompson is hoping for a friendlier reception back in Hollywood.
The former Republican presidential candidate is seeking a return to his acting career, having recently signed a deal with the William Morris Agency, Reuters reports.
Thompson, a former senator from Tennessee, starred as New York District Attorney Arthur Branch in the NBC show "Law & Order" until last year when Republican Party insiders convinced him to mount a presidential bid.
The 65-year-old conservative was hailed by some as the next coming of Ronald Reagan, but his campaigning style was criticized as lackluster, and he was never able to capitalize on the anticipation supporters had built before he announced that he was getting into the race.
He played to the voters as a staunch conservative and a son of the South, and while he did draw some evangelical voters from one-time Baptist preacher and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, it wasn't enough to pull him into contention for the nomination.
Thompson formally ended his bid late last January after third place showings in Iowa and South Carolina - the two states in which he devoted most of his resources.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
TAMPA, Florida (CNN) – The day after Fred Thompson announced he was dropping out of the presidential race, Mitt Romney told reporters he believed he had the most to gain from the former senator's exit.
For the Republican party to hold on to the White House, said Romney Wednesday, “I think you have to have social conservatives on board, as well as economic conservatives and foreign policy or national defense conservatives.
"I speak to those three groups. I think Fred Thompson did as well and in some respects his departure from the campaign I think inures to my benefit.”
He added, “I will miss Sen. Thompson's humor at our debates, he is a delightful character.... I appreciate his contributions to this campaign.” The two men often tangled on the campaign trail, with Romney often on the receiving end of attacks from Thompson.
The former Tennessee senator hasn’t said whether he plans to endorse any of his former opponents, including close friend John McCain, and it's unclear which candidate his former supporters might now embrace.
The most recent polls, which were conducted before Thompson ended his run, showed Romney neck-and-neck with McCain in Florida's GOP presidential race.
- CNN Political Producer Alexander Marquardt
(CNN) – The troubled economy is front and central this election year. President Bush and Congress are facing mounting political pressure on the issue, as the Federal Reserve unexpectedly cut interest rates Tuesday.
In the latest episode of CNN=Politics Daily White House Correspondent Ed Henry highlights a possible emergency recession plan from President Bush and Congress.
On the campaign trail, the battle between Sens. Clinton and Obama continues after Monday’s spirited CNN debate in South Carolina. Jessica Yellin reports from that state on the latest campaign dustup.
And while the Democrats battle each other, they are starting to focus on a new target across party lines. Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider highlights the new cross-party fire directed at Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
Finally, just days after a placing third in South Carolina’s Republican primary, former Sen. Fred Thompson has dropped out of the presidential race. Chief National Correspondent John King reports from Florida.
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–CNN's Emily Sherman
Thompson had a disappointing showing in the GOP's South Carolina primary. (Photo Credit: AP)
In a statement issued by his campaign, Fred Thompson said:
"Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people."
As the 2008 White House race moves to Florida for the primaries there on January 29 and the Democratic primary on January 26 in South Carolina, CNN continues to bring you in-depth political coverage.
If you missed any of CNN's Sunday Ballot Bowl programming, you can catch the highlights here:
Video: Watch Chuck Norris and Mike Huckabee
Video: Watch Giuliani on what he'd fix
Video: Watch Edwards on Dr. King's legacy
Video: Watch Sen. McCain's S.C. victory speech
Video: Watch Sen. Clinton on Dr. King's legacy
Video: Watch Fred Thompson's S.C. concession speech
Video: Watch Edwards: 'Enough is enough'
Video: Watch Romney: 'We can fix Washington'
Video: Watch Mike Huckabee S.C. concession speech
Video: Watch Sen. Obama on unity
Video: Watch Sen. McCain discuss his S.C. win with Dana Bash
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
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