Friday, October 19, 2007

Fred's donor base grows

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Fred Thompson hasn't dazzled many political professionals with his early stump appearances, yet when it comes to building a base of small campaign donors he's showing the potential to keep pace with better-funded rivals.

Thompson, 65, a former Tennessee senator who's running for the Republican nomination as a Ronald Reagan-style populist, tapped 74,217 individuals for an average gift of $125 between July 1 and Sept. 30, the first fundraising quarter of his presidential bid.

That's more than double the contributors Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani signed up during their first reporting periods. If Thompson keeps adding donors at this clip, he may be competitive in early primaries even though he trails Giuliani and Romney in cash raised.

Thompson may be ``stirring the base of the party, which has so far been on the sidelines,'' said Craig Shirley, a Republican consultant in Alexandria, Virginia. ``Reagan in '76 or '80 was never the favorite of Wall Street, he was the favorite of Main Street,'' said Shirley, who isn't aligned with any campaign.

Thompson's stint as an actor -- he appeared in the TV show ``Law & Order'' and in popular films such as ``Die Hard 2'' and ``The Hunt for Red October'' -- may also explain some of his grassroots allure.

The inside the beltway pundit class doesn't like Thompson because he got in late - after they had already picked their favorite. However the average Republican voter, you know the people who drafted him, love him.

In the end it will be the individual voters who make or break the Thompson candidacy. If they continue to stand by him he will be the nominee. If they listen to the chattering class they may be frightened off.

The RCP average of all the polls has Thompson at number 2 behind Giuliani with Romney in third place. It seems to me that a Thompson/Romney ticket, if announced now with Romney pulling out of the primary and campaigning for Thompson would bury Rudy.

If the other real conservatives like Tancredo and Hunter as well as sort-of conservative Huckabee would also back Thompson (crazy John McCain and the Ass-Clown Ron Paul are hopeless) he could stop running against the other Republicans and start running against Hillary.