The Tennessean is reporting that Fred Thompson will run for the GOP nomination. This is hardly a surprise, but does confirm the rampant speculation.
In many polls, Thompson is already in second or third place, which means that he’s got a more than credible shot at getting the nomination. I suspect that Thompson will steal some of Giuliani’s thunder — he has the same leadership characteristics as Giuliani without as much of the baggage. Both Giuliani and Thompson have the sort of gravitas that the GOP currently lacks. Thompson has an accomplished record in governance in law, and has been actively courting the conservative base in a way that Giuliani has not.
I’m not sure how this will all shake out. McCain and Romney are down, but certainly not out, and Romney has been giving some very strong performances as of late. Giuliani and Thompson might do what Clinton and Obama threaten to do with the Dems — take each other out and leave the field open to a dark-horse candidate. Such turns are certainly not unheard of in American politics.
If nothing else, Thompson’s entrance will make this race, already hotly contested, into an even more interesting competition. The Republicans have the advantage of a very strong field, and the top-tier candidates offer much to the party and to the nation. Even the middle- and lower-tier candidates have something to offer: Duncan Hunter is surprisingly well-versed on the issues, Tommy Thompson may have no chance of winning, but his welfare reform efforts helped millions of Americans, and even Ron Paul, while a nut, brings something to the debate. (Even if that something is a punching bag for the other candidates.) It’s a strong field, and the person who finally gets the nod is going to have to demonstrate competence, charisma, and knowledge to make it — which is a good thing for the country in general.