People are paying attention to Fred Thompson, particularly the media.
First, there was this AP blurb in the statewide paper.
There was a time when Fred Thompson suggested that he couldn't see himself running for office again.
"For me, the George Washington example of serving eight years and riding out of town on a horse and never returning has great appeal," the Tennessee Republican said in 2002, the twilight of his Senate career.
Now, five years later, he is a well-known TV actor who finds himself on the verge of a real-life presidential bid, seemingly recruited by activists hungry for someone to fill what they call a conservative void among the top-tier GOP hopefuls.
Numerous signs point to a Thompson candidacy, and a summertime announcement is widely expected, although people close to him caution that he has not made a final decision about running.
Never mind that he basically already is.
And then there's this from Time.
As former Republican Senator Fred Thompson ponders a late entry into the 2008 presidential race, the actor's biggest advantage just might be that people feel they already know exactly what he would be like as Commander in Chief.
Even before his Law & Order depiction of district attorney Arthur Branch, Thompson nearly always played variations on the same character — a straight-talking, tough-minded, wise Southerner — basically a version of what his supporters say is his true political self. And he is often cast as a person in power — a military official, the White House chief of staff, the head of the CIA, a Senator or even the President of the U.S.
On the strength of that visibility and image, Thompson, 64, has vaulted in public-opinion polls to within striking distance of the leading Republican candidates. In the latest Time poll, he's at 10%, matching Mitt Romney. But Thompson is under no illusion that winning the White House would be easy, despite (or perhaps because of) his frequent acknowledgment that "certain doors have opened to me from time to time in my life."
But he won't win the White House unless he runs. And many are expecting him to do just that. It's merely a question of time as to when he will announce.
It is this that has people, and the media, talking. You can't buy publicity like this, but Thompson is getting it free of charge.
Not a bad way to run a campaign...even if he isn't 'campaigning'.