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Thompson likely to get Republican nod

By By Steve Flowers
Very seldom will I venture a prediction on a major race like president, especially over a year out and with each party having 10 candidates openly vying for their nomination. In addition, it is the most open presidential race in my lifetime. It has been 80 years since a president was not seeking reelection and a sitting vice-president was not seeking to move up. The race is truly wide open.
I am going out on a limb and predicting that Fred Thompson will be chosen as the republican nominee for president at their convention this time next year and that he will face Hillary Rodham Clinton in the presidential election in November of 2008.
Thompson is a former Watergate prosecutor, private lawyer, Tennessee U.S. Senator, and actor. He looks like a president. He has a resonant baritone voice and an imposing 6'6" physical presence. His eight years in the Senate from Tennessee reveals a conservative voting record. Thompson has proven communication skills honed by his work on television and in the movies. The media is calling him Reagan-like. His entry into the race excites the GOP conservative base. They have not been too excited about Giuliani or McCain.
Thompson is not perceived as a Neanderthal conservative, but has the record to pass their litmus test. That test will not be as stringent as in the past because republican voters fear their side will lose so they are looking for a candidate with electability. Most polls have indicated that most GOP primary voters are not enamored with the current field of frontrunners and are looking for someone new.
McCain has faded dramatically. He looks tired. Giuliani looks old and washed out and is really a liberal democrat on social issues. Romney appears to be wishy washy and slick. He cannot seem to get any traction even though he has a lot of money. It reminds me of a saying my old probate judge used when I would ask him about some prospective candidate that wanted to test the water. The old veteran courthouse politician would say, "Naw he want go anywhere. He just ain't heavy enough."
You might say Giuliani, McCain, and Romney "just ain't heavy enough," whereas Thompson has the gravitas and persona to make for good presidential timber. Hillary and her staff know this too. Their polling data is telling them that Thompson is their opponent. They are already throwing stones at him.
Appearance is important in politics. An imposing, gravely voiced, tough Fred Thompson stacks up well against a female Hillary Clinton in a presidential race, especially when it comes to national security. It is assumed that Bush's Iraq war debacle will shackle any GOP candidate to ultimate defeat next year. However if some moderate republican senators are able to end the war by late fall it could diffuse the issue. My bet is that it will be a very close race next November.
By mid October polling will reveal that it is a two man race for the GOP nomination between Thompson and Giuliani. They will be far ahead of McCain and Romney who will be in the single digits. The race will be over in early February after the February 5th mega Tuesday primaries. Giuliani will benefit from New York's early primary and will carry his home state but Thompson will best him in the Sunbelt states, including the important swing state of Florida. Thompson will annihilate Giuliani in the South. Giuliani's social liberalism and personal life will come home to roost in the conservative states' primaries. California will be critical to both Giuliani and Thompson and may well be the deciding state.
The 2008 Presidential Race will be fun to watch. If I am correct with my prognostication about Fred Thompson, he will be the first native Alabamian nominated by a major political party as their presidential nominee. He grew up in rural Tennessee, but he was born in Sheffield Alabama.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama's leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 70 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.