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Some House Backers of Thompson Are Starting to Lose the Faith
CQ POLITICS ^ | 19 November 2007 | Jonathan Allen, CQ Staff

Posted on 11/19/2007 10:22:45 AM PST by Alter Kaker

Several House Republicans who endorsed Fred Thompson for president now say that they are frustrated with what they view as an apathetic campaign, and at least one regrets having committed to the former Tennessee senator.

“I think he’s kind of done a belly flop,” said an estranged Thompson backer who indicated he will not pull his public support before the “Super Tuesday” primaries. “We’ll just wait till after Feb. 5 because I think he’s going to get beat.”

The disaffected members of team Thompson say that he has failed to put to rest whispers that he is unwilling to campaign hard enough to win the presidency.

“He seems to be perpetuating it instead of defeating it,” another dissatisfied Thompson backer told CQ Politics. “I can’t see me bailing on him, but there’s some frustration.”

Political endorsements mean little in and of themselves. But actively engaged elected officials can use their own networks to help boost a presidential candidate’s chances in their district or state, according to political experts.

“It often times gives entrée to that person’s own fundraising network and to be able to tap into that person’s knowledge of how to win that particular geography,” said Susan A. MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Some of Thompson’s endorsers say they aren’t lifting a finger.

“I’ve kind of pulled back. I’m not not supporting him, but I’m not doing anything,” said a third lawmaker.

What could be even more troubling for Thompson is what that lawmaker said GOP activists outside the capital Beltway are saying: “Now they’re calling me and saying ‘What’s he doing?’ It’s almost like he doesn’t want it.”

The disillusioned Thompson endorsers spoke in separate interviews with CQ Politics, all on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to damage him or themselves publicly. Two said they retain hope that he will turn it around.

One indicated that Thompson’s recent comments on abortion may have done him serious damage with some antiabortion activists. Thompson favors leaving the question of abortion to the states, and conservative columnist Robert D. Novak pilloried Thompson for a Meet the Press interview earlier this month in which Thompson said women who get abortions should not be made into criminals. Novak called the specter of legislation that would put abortion recipients, or their parents, in jail a “spurious issue raised by abortion-rights activists.”

Thompson’s staunchest supporters on Capitol Hill say his campaign is gathering steam. They note his recent endorsement by the National Right to Life Committee, which has the resources to spend heavily on Thompson’s behalf and the reach to activate grass-roots conservatives.

“I’m very confident in my support for his campaign and continue to believe he is the most consistent conservative in the race who can win both the primary and the general,” said Rep. Adam H. Putnam , R-Fla., who as chairman of the Republican Conference is the third-ranking member of the House GOP.

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert , who remains a strong Thompson supporter, said the knock that Thompson is not campaigning hard enough is “a bit unfair.”

Nonetheless, MacManus said the wavering support from some of the House Republicans who have endorsed Thompson matters.

“At this point it’s significant because he’s trying to win a come-from-behind race and he needs every bit of support he can get,” she said.

After a long flirtation, Thompson officially launched his candidacy in early September, after the other Republican and Democratic contenders had been campaigning for months.

The late entry appears to have contributed to the loss of one possible endorsement in the House.

Rep. Nathan Deal , R-Ga., was once on the brink of declaring for Thompson but ultimately chose to keep his powder dry.

Deal said that, like others, Thompson waiting so long to get into the race disconcerted him.

“He really hasn’t caught fire,” said Deal, who has not committed to a candidate. Deal did not rule out the possibility of endorsing Thompson, or at least voting for him, later on. But he also said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee , who is outpolling Thompson in Iowa, might get his help. Huckabee and Thompson are in direct competition for social conservatives.

Rep. Zach Wamp , R-Tenn., who has organized support for Thompson on Capitol Hill, said his man is building momentum and is well-positioned at this point.

“He is still in the thick of this, and it’s wide open,” Wamp said. “In no way at all am I discouraged about anything.”

TOPICS: Front Page News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Tennessee
KEYWORDS: 109th; 2008; duncanhunter; elections; fred; fredthompson; giuliani; huckabee; mitt; mittromney; romney; zzzzzzz
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To: Alter Kaker

141 posted on 11/20/2007 8:16:18 AM PST by floriduh voter (Terri Schindler Schiavo unwillingly gave her life to become a debate question.)
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To: napscoordinator

Pro-lifers are splintered at this point. NRTL is not the only game in town any longer and they may have gotten too big for their own britches. Their endorsement has less clout than in the past. NRTL is losing support as an organization.

142 posted on 11/20/2007 8:20:48 AM PST by floriduh voter (Terri Schindler Schiavo unwillingly gave her life to become a debate question.)
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To: WestSylvanian

What are you, 12, LOL? :-)

143 posted on 11/21/2007 3:47:11 PM PST by pillut48 (CJ in TX --Soccer Mom and proud RUSH REPUBLICAN! WIN, FRED, WIN!!!)
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