Stuart Rothenberg, who's been doing politics for an awfully long time, is not dismissing the possibility that Fred Thompson could very well win the Republican presidential nomination. The conventional wisdom, long held by Rothenberg, says that candidates who enter the race after about April 15 have no chance. Rothenberg has rethought that.
I'll admit that I have had a hard time warming to the idea that former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), whom I first saw as minority counsel during the Senate Watergate hearings and whose TV and movie credits include "Die Hard 2," "The Hunt for Red October" and "Law & Order," would run for president. And it seemed, at least initially, even more difficult to imagine him as the Republican nominee next year.
But try as I might to dismiss the idea of a Thompson candidacy, I no longer can do so. It isn't that the former Senator from Tennessee is such a good fit for the role of presidential candidate. It's simply that none of the other cast members is a perfect fit either.
As every political analyst on the planet has observed for months, all of the top-tier GOP hopefuls face serious obstacles on the road to Minneapolis, and there clearly is a vacancy in the race for a mainstream conservative who doesn't have a reputation as a troublemaker within the party.
Thompson surely has assets both in the race for the Republican nomination and in a general election, the single most important being that he both looks and sounds like the president of the United States of America. Don't dismiss the "he sure looks like a president" factor. It's important.
The voice alone is good for several percentage points. Where that will really be devastating is in a debate, incidentally. It is, I think, significant that someone who has been analyzing politics for as long as Rothenberg has been is not discounting the possibility of Thompson winning if he enters. It is beginning to look increasingly like he's going to jump in judging from stories all over the media these days.