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New movie president?

The unknown joker in the Republican primary is Ronald Reagen cloning Fred Thompson.


[usa] Ten candidates are currently fighting for the Republican Party nomination ahead of next year's presidential election. But the man with the highest expectations has still not thrown himself into the official fight: former Tennessee senator and actor Fred Thompson.

At the end of May it became known that he was planning an election campaign. And according to most party barometers, he is now as popular as the favorite so far, former New York mayor Rudy Guiliani. One poll from the prestigious Pew Research Center, taken up the first week in June, indicates that both have support from 37 percent of conservative core voters, despite the fact that 64-year-old Thompson is only half as well-known as Guiliani.

Norwegians will first and foremost recognize Thompson from the cinema, where he has distinguished himself in major films such as Cape Fear, The Hunt for Red October, and Days of Thunder. In the United States, however, he is best known from the television series Law & Order, where since 2002 he has lent his face to frontman Arthur Branch, a district attorney in New York.

Against gun control and abortion

But Thompson also has a broad political background. During eight years as a Tennessee senator, he made it a key point to compare himself to another actor who became a politician; the Republican idol Ronald Reagen.

"Reagan believed in something," said Thompson. He showed us what an individual can achieve through conviction, difficult and often controversial choices, and the ability to convince people.

And the similarities with the late president lie not only in the career choices: Like the predecessor, Thompson also fears tax cuts, entrepreneurial growth, minimal state interference in "private affairs" as well as a strong military defense. The theme of the review is criticism of the American society's modernization and the attack on "the glue of society", namely the Constitution and its "moral values." He believes the biggest threat to American society today is activist judges in the country's justice system who are trying to bring society to the left.

On this basis, he consistently distances himself from any form of gun control, and does not want to hear about either gay marriage or abortion. To get the message out to the people, he has even hired several Ronald Reagen advisers, including Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver and campaign strategist Roger Stone, who will try to portray Thompson as a Washington "outsider." This is considered particularly important in that President George W. Bush's support is at an all-time low.

The odds on their side

However, the "outsider" argument is a truth with modifications. Thompson has a long career in the country's capital. After being a state attorney in the early 1970s, he spent a full 18 years as a top lobbyist in Washington DC with technology and investment giants General Electric and Westinghouse on the client list. In this incarnation, he is credited with the dubious credit for Congress 'extensive privatization of US banks' lending services in the 1980s, which cost the state $ 150 billion and huge budget deficits in the early 1990s. After this he was senator for eight years.

And as if that were not enough, he has in recent months fought with beak and claws for the full acquittal of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, who was recently sentenced to 30 months in prison for leaking top-secret information to the press.

But despite this, the actor probably has the odds on his side. For the other Republican candidates, they are considered "quasi-liberal" among conservative core voters. For example, Rudy Guiliani defends a woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. He is also a supporter of gun control and gay rights, which is completely unacceptable among Christian Republican core voters. Senator John McCain, another candidate, is seen as hesitant after decades of "independent" Republicans, and is under heavy fire for his opposition to torture and support for immigration reform. Finally, the top three candidate, Mitt Romney, has a background as governor of the United States' most liberal state, the Massachusetts, which could make it cold on the backs of any Republican. For example, the state is the only one in the United States where gay marriage is legal.

President on film

Thompson's chances are reflected in opinion polls, which indicate that six out of ten Republican primary voters are dissatisfied with the current Republican candidates. This group wants a candidate with a strong conservative backbone instead. One of these is the influential lobbyist Curt Kiser, who has so far worked for Rudy Guiliani's campaign.

"I did not think Fred Thompson would throw himself into the fight, but now that he seems to be doing it, I want to join him. With eight years behind him in the Senate, he has a solid political network. And as a former lobbyist, he has financially strong companies behind him, which will make campaign financing less problematic. Fred is a winner, "he concludes.

And it is especially the financial aspect that comes into play before history's most expensive election campaign, where each candidate must raise an estimated at least 100 million dollars this year alone to be considered a "serious" candidate. The Washington Post reported last week that this is unlikely to be a problem, as a number of wealthy contributors are backing Thompson's budding campaign.

However, the main reason why Thompson is still not an official candidate is of a technical nature. American law stipulates that all candidates must be recognized for the same amount of time on television, regardless of incarnation. This means that none of Thompson's 18 films or Law & Order episodes can be shown on television anymore after he officially declares himself a candidate later this summer.

It is thus perhaps the irony of fate that the last chance to see Thompson as an actor on American screens will be in the HBO film Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which premieres later this month. There he plays Ulysses S. Grant, who was President of the United States from 1869

to 1877. ■

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