Fred Takes the Plunge

To no one's surprise, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson formally entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination last night.

Thompson made the announcement on the Jay Leno show while releasing a video on his YouTube site that laid out the reasons for his run as well as his qualifications for office.

For both the announcement video and some highlights from his Leno appearance,
Hot Air has both.

Choosing the late night talk show format for his announcement is in keeping with what the
New York Times calls his "guerilla-style" campaign:

Choosing “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” to declare “I’m running for president of the United States,” Mr. Thompson said, “I don’t think people are going to say, ‘That guy would make a very good president but he just didn’t get in soon enough.’"

Mr. Thompson’s announcement, which has been expected for months, was released to reporters about an hour before the other Republican candidates took part in a Fox News-sponsored debate in the early primary state of New Hampshire.

But as if to poke fun at his opponents, he ran an ad, titled “Debate,” that appeared directly before the Republican candidates took their places to face live cameras in a much more traditional political ritual. In a dark suit with the backdrop of an American flag, Mr. Thompson said in the advertisement:

“On the next president’s watch, our country will make decisions that will affect our lives and our families far into the future. We can’t allow ourselves to become a weaker, less prosperous and more divided nation.”
Thompson's campaign themes will be darker and more serious than most of the other candidates. He will spend his time talking about the looming deficits and their threat to our economic future as well as entitlement reform and the challenges of terrorism. 

Appearing folksy and avuncular  in his announcement video, Thompson's long shot candidacy now needs to take those strengths and turn them into campaign momentum. He is a distant second or third in most national polls and has lost considerable ground in the last month as personnel problems and strategic missteps cost him dearly. 

And he must raise money - lots of it and in a hurry - if he expects to compete with the Romney and Giuliani organizational machines. He has less than 15 weeks before the first caucuse in Iowa so there isn't a lot of time for a shakedown cruise. He must hit the ground running and sprint all the way to January and beyond if he is to have any chance at all.

No doubt Thompson is a serious, thoughtful man who wants to address the very serious issues that will affect us in the future. Whether that will play with the voters will determine his success or failure