If Republican Fred Thompson enters the presidential race next month as expected, the actor and former senator will be aiming to add another title to a crowded resume — blogger-in-chief.
Thompson has been contributing frequently to conservative Web sites as he gears up for a 2008 presidential bid, posting thoughts on topics ranging from the French election to the Middle East and the immigration debate.
While the Internet and blogs are a basic cornerstone of any modern campaign communications strategy, Thompson has been notably enthusiastic about expressing his thoughts online.
“The guy actually likes blogging. Before he decided he was going to take the plunge on a presidential race, he cruised the blogs. It attracted him,” said Roger Simon, co-founder of the Pajamas Media Web site, where Thompson frequently wins a weekly Republican straw poll.
Thompson has promised to keep the Web commentaries coming even after he formally kicks off his campaign. He praises the blogosphere as part of “a true information revolution.”
“That’s why so much of my effort has been focused on talking to Americans through this medium,” he wrote on Pajamas Media. “By empowering individuals and building communities, the Internet provides a way of going around the inside-the-beltway crowd to reach people in numbers unheard of not that long ago.”
Thompson has been shooting up in national polls of the Republican presidential field, even leading in one recent poll. His rise is fueled in part by conservative dissatisfaction with the other 10 candidates vying to succeed President George W. Bush in the November 2008 election.
Thompson, a former Tennessee senator and star of Hollywood films and NBC’s “Law and Order” television show, formed a committee in his home state earlier this month to explore a White House bid. A formal announcement is expected next month.
He is hardly alone in his use of blogs. Many White House candidates have personal blogs and nearly all feature blogs from family or supporters. Republican Mitt Romney’s sons write a “Five Brothers” blog that featured a recipe for his favorite dish, Meatloaf Cakes, from Romney’s wife, Ann.
But Thompson has been the most active campaign blogger by far, and those who know him say he writes nearly everything himself — not always the case in modern politics.
“It’s not that we wouldn’t use all the traditional campaign tools, but what he has seen on the Internet is the ability to directly engage real people and have a conversation,” said Thompson spokesman Mark Corallo.
The blog entry that attracted the most attention was his criticism of liberal filmmaker Michael Moore for traveling to Cuba. In response, Moore challenged Thompson to a debate and criticized him for hypocrisy because the actor was fond of Cuban cigars.
In a YouTube video response, Thompson chomps on one of the offending cigars while suggesting Moore look into the case of a dissident Cuban filmmaker who Thompson said was committed to a mental institution.
“A mental institution, Michael,” Thompson said. “Might be something you ought to think about.”
In other blogs, Thompson has praised the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France and belittled the Bush-backed immigration bill languishing in Congress, opposed by many Republican conservatives.
“No matter how much lipstick Washington tries to slap onto this legislative pig, it’s not going to win any beauty contests,” he said.
He compared Israel’s retaliation to rocket attacks to the U.S. response if Mexican troops had launched daily attacks on San Diego.
“I can tell you, our response would look nothing like Israel’s restrained and pinpoint reactions to daily missile attacks from Gaza,” he said.