Former Tennessee Senator (and part-time actor) Fred Thompson is kicking off his presidential campaign tonight with a media blitz that will include an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Thompson is intentionally missing tonight's GOP presidential debate, a tactic that guarantees a much larger audience for his presidential announcement.
The Thompson camp is also releasing an Internet streaming video statement tonight at midnight, another way of fanning the media flames to his advantage.
Thompson seems to have considerable appeal among Republicans in the South and right here in Oklahoma. Mike McCarville at the McCarville Report Online, for example, has been promoting Thompson for weeks. You can even make a contribution to Thompson's campaign by clicking the correct box on McCarville's site.
Yet Thompson's recent "testing the waters" activities have raised a number of questions about Thompson's political viability. His views on a number of policies dear to conservatives have shifted from his earlier positions or have not been clear. His staff has been in turmoil. At times, he's appeared indecisive. Questions have been raised about his years as a lobbyist. Finally and perhaps most importantly, he hasn't raised as much money as the experts expected.
Will Thompson ride in on a wave of good publicity and save the flagging fortunes of the GOP presidential candidates?
Our crystal ball is cloudy on this point. But given the demoralized state of the GOP after seven years of the Bush presidency, even Fred Thompson may need a truly heroic performance to make it all the way to the White House.