Tommy Thompson Opens GOP Bid

By Dan Balz, Chris Cillizza and Jose Antonio Vargas
Thursday, April 5, 2007

Former Wisconsin governor Tommy G. Thompson made it official yesterday, launching his long-shot presidential candidacy by arguing that the Republican Party has lost its way and must find a way to reconnect with voters.

Before an audience of about 250 people in Clive, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines, Thompson said the GOP must regroup in the face of electoral defeats. "Republicans went to Washington and we lost our way," he said. "We tried to spend like Democrats, and voters saw through us." Speaking later with reporters, Thompson expanded on that theme. "We have to re-earn the trust of the voter again," he said. "We cannot spend money as foolishly as the Democrats and expect to be the majority party. We have got to come up with ideas. We haven't come up with new ideas."

Thompson was one of the most innovative Republican governors in the nation during the 1990s, particularly in the areas of welfare and education. In his speech, he called for major reforms in the nation's health-care system, including a requirement that all Americans have health insurance. On Iraq, he said the government there should decide whether it wants the United States to stay or leave. He also said he favors giving warring parties "their own piece of Iraq and the incentive to live peacefully within a larger nation." Thompson is staking his hopes on a victory in Iowa, but he noted: "I want this campaign to be about ideas because I'm fairly confident that, if it is, I'm going to win."

MySpace Sets January Primary

The first primary election will be days before the Iowa caucuses and the balloting in New Hampshire. The first online primary, at least.

MySpace, the popular social networking site, announced that it will hold a presidential primary on Jan. 1 and Jan 2, 2008. According to ComScore Media Metrix, MySpace has 65 million monthly users, 85 percent of whom are age 18 and over. Nielsen/NetRatings says MySpace users of voting age are three times more likely to interact online with politicians. They're also 42 percent more likely to watch politically oriented online video, said Nielsen, and 35 percent more likely to research candidates online.

Last month, MySpace launched the Impact Channel, a central hub of MySpace profiles and official videos of the candidates. In a few weeks, it will conduct regular issue-based straw polls, with specific topics decided by users themselves, said MySpace spokeswoman Dani Dudeck.

Dole Adds to Coffers

Sen. Elizabeth Dole raised $1.7 million over the first three months of the year, a total likely to quiet retirement rumors swirling around the North Carolina Republican.

Dole began 2007 in a perilous cash position, with just $245,000 in the bank and her reelection race looming next year. But with more than $1.5 million on hand, Dole appears in a much stronger shape for a second term.

Democrats have yet to find a serious challenger for Dole, and her strong fundraising numbers may further complicate that task. The two most highly regarded Democratic candidates -- Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue and State Treasurer Richard H. Moore -- are running for governor in 2008 and have publicly expressed little interest in switching races.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company