The Politico is reporting that Fred Thompson is in the race for the Republican presidential nomination and will formally announce in July. This may or may not be accurate (I know that The Politico has had to withdraw or correct at least one big scoop). Something appears to be afoot, however. Thompson has started to fundraise by all accounts and appears likely to at least announce an exploratory committee soon.
Fred Dalton Thompson is planning to enter the presidential race over the Fourth of July holiday, announcing that week that he has already raised several million dollars and is being backed by insiders from the past three Republican administrations, Thompson advisers told The Politico.
Thompson, the "Law and Order" star and former U.S. senator from Tennessee, has been publicly coy, even as people close to him have been furiously preparing for a late entry into the wide-open contest. But the advisers said Thompson dropped all pretenses on Tuesday afternoon during a conference call with more than 100 potential donors, each of whom was urged to raise about $50,000.
Thompson's formal announcement is planned for Nashville. Organizers say the red pickup truck that was a hallmark of Thompson's first Senate race will begin showing up in Iowa and New Hampshire as an emblem of what they consider his folksy, populist appeal.
Oddly, I was just reading a Newsweek magazine while waiting for my daughter in the dentist's office. They reported that the red pickup was sitting in Thompson's driveway with peeling paint. Their spin was that local political prognosticators were watching that truck to see if it suddenly underwent a facelift. (I can't find that article online, I was reading the print edition.)
UPDATE: NRO says that The Politico is wrong – there will NOT be a formal announcement on July 4th.
Just talked to a Thompson source I'll call "TA3" (Thompson Associate 3). Much more coming shortly, but the first word was, there will not be a presidential announcement from Fred Thompson on July 4.
(The Politico got it wrong, it appears.)
TA3: "There will be no July 4 announcement… There was some discussion of a June 4 beginning of fundraising; that's the date checks will be collected. I suspect that's where there was some confusion."
The forthcoming announcement will be that Thompson is "testing the waters." While Thompson is in that not-quite-announced-candidate stage, he will be able to complete previously committed paid appearances and speeches and continue work his work on ABC radio and filling in for Paul Harvey. He is not lining up additional paid speeches or appearances.