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Thompson Already in Race, Blogger Complains to FEC

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

NOT AN ACT

Thompson Already in Race, Blogger Complains to FEC

Fred Thompson has been "testing the waters" for weeks, operating officially as a non-candidate but seeming very candidate-like indeed. Trips to New Hampshire. Speeches. Even a howdy at the Iowa State Fair. Now it may have caught up to him.

Lane Hudson, the former Democratic staffer who posted the e-mails that led to Florida Republican congressman Mark Foley's scandal-ridden resignation, said yesterday that he has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Thompson is "ignoring the letter and spirit" of the law.

The complaint argues that Thompson is running a full-blown campaign and should be held to the same regulations as the other candidates.

"He has been presenting himself as a candidate for President, he has been raising large sums of money beyond what would be required to explore a possible candidacy," Hudson wrote on a new blog, newsfortheleft.blogspot.com.

Thompson has said consistently that he has not made up his mind to run for president this year. At events, he often says that he is "testing the water, and the water's warm." It appears that he is preparing to announce officially during the first week of September, though dates of his announcement have come and gone before. Jim Mills, a Thompson spokesman, said, "We're following the law."

Bob Biersack, a spokesman for the FEC, said the agency has received the complaint. Under FEC rules, Thompson has 15 days to respond.

By then, though, he may already be a candidate.

-- Michael D. Shear

'RED' STATE BAITING

Clinton Trip Aims to Prove She Can Go Home Again

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has been embracing the role of partisan warrior recently. She has an ad out in Iowa that says ordinary people are "invisible to this president," and during Sunday's debate in Des Moines she noted that she has been fighting against the Republican attack machine for "longer than anybody else up here."

But can Clinton -- whose biggest political problem is the perception that she's "polarizing" -- really afford to be on the attack all the time?

Apparently not. Yesterday, she traveled to Arkansas for an endorsement by the Democratic governor of the state , which voted for Bush in the past two election cycles. She was welcomed to Arkansas by three of the state's Democratic members of Congress and Sen. Mark Pryor, who have all endorsed her, according to the campaign.

Her advisers held up the endorsement trip back to her former home state as proof that Clinton can win support in "red" (Republican) states, making her as viable a general-election candidate as anyone else in the race -- especially Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), whose soothing bipartisan tone has been a hallmark of his campaign.

-- Anne E. Kornblut

AND NUNN FOR ALL

Former Georgia Senator Mulls Bid With Unity08

Former senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) has expressed interest in a presidential bid and is now one of 50 people who have discussed a bipartisan or independent presidential run with Unity08, a group founded by Democratic and Republican strategists who believe the two-party system is not helping to address the country's most important problems.

Doug Bailey, a GOP political strategist and adviser to President Gerald Ford who is one of the group's founders, said he and other officials of the group met recently with Nunn. Nunn, who is best known for his work on nuclear non-proliferation, served in the Senate from 1972 through 1996 and now runs an organization called the Nuclear Threat Initiative. He was out of the country yesterday and could not be reached to comment, but he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution in an article published on Sund ay that a presidential run "is a possibility, not a probability."

"My own thinking is it may be a time for the country to say 'Timeout.' The two-party system has served us well, historically, but it's not serving us now," Nunn, 68 told the newspaper.

Nunn would be a surprising Unity08 candidate both because of his longstanding ties to the Democratic Party and the fact that stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, his signature issue, is already represented -- or at least nearly represented -- in the 2008 race by Fred Thompson. The former senator from Tennessee, "Law & Order" TV star and all-but-certain GOP candidate even played the part of the president in a 2005 movie produced by Nunn's nuclear institute called "Last Best Chance," in which terrorists try to obtain materials for nuclear weapons. ("A wake-up call for America and the world," 9/11 commission heads Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton said of the movie.)

Nunn is not the only potential office-seeker to have met with Unity08. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) is one of several dozen would-be candidates whom the group has briefed about the mechanics of running outside of the two-party structure.

While the group so far hasn't wooed the millions of supporters it wants, it does have a few high-profile allies, including its own "Law & Order" star power. Sam Waterston, who played Jack McCoy to Fred Thompson's Arthur Branch, is listed as a Unity08 supporter.

-- Perry Bacon Jr.

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