Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson

Infobox Senator | name=Fred Thompson

caption =Official congressional photo
jr/sr=United States Senator
term_start=December 2 1994
term_end=January 3 2003
Served alongside: Jim Sasser, Bill Frist
preceded=Harlan Mathews
succeeded=Lamar Alexander
order2 = Chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs
term_start2 = January 7, 1997
term_end2 = January 3, 2001
predecessor2 = Ted Stevens
successor2 = Joe Lieberman
term_start3 = January 20, 2001
term_end3 = June 6, 2001
predecessor3 = Joe Lieberman
successor3 = Joe Lieberman
date of birth=birth date and age|1942|08|19
place of birth=Sheffield, Alabama, U.S.
date of death=
place of death=
spouse=(1) Sarah Elizabeth Lindsey (Knestrick), 1959–1985; divorced (2) Jeri Kehn, 2002–Present
alma_mater=Memphis State University, Vanderbilt University
profession= Senator, actor, attorney, lobbyist, public speaker, radio personality
religion= Church of Christ|

Fred Dalton Thompson (born Freddie Dalton Thompsoncite news | url= | title=Fred, Freddie — he's still F.D. Thompson: New details emerge on personal life of newly announced candidate | first=Tom | last=Humphrey | publisher=Knoxville News Sentinel | date=2007-09-07|accessdate=2007-09-08] [Matthews, Joe. [ “An in-law-made man”] , Los Angeles Times (2007-09-06): “Thompson stopped using the name Freddie in his professional dealings and became Fred.”] on August 19, 1942) is an American politician, actor, attorney, and lobbyist. He represented Tennessee as a Republican in the U.S. Senate from 1994 through 2002.

Thompson served as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board at the United States Department of State, is a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and is a Visiting Fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, specializing in national security and intelligence. [American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, [ Scholars & Fellows] .] cite web |last=Thompson |first=Fred | url= |title=Modern Political Archives: Fred Thompson Papers, 1993–2002 |publisher=University of Tennessee | accessdate=2007-04-08] [U.S. Department of State, [] ]

As an actor, Thompson has appeared in a large number of movies and television shows. He has frequently portrayed governmental figures.cite news|last=Bragg |first=Rick|title=Grits and Glitter Campaign Helps Actor Who Played a Senator Become One
publisher="The New York Times" |pages=Sec. 1, p. 10 |url=|date =November 12, 1994 |accessdate=2007-04-08
] In the final months of his U.S. Senate term in 2002, Thompson joined the cast of the long-running NBC television series "Law & Order", playing New York City District Attorney Arthur Branch, until the network granted his request to be released from his contract in May 2007.

He was a candidate for the 2008 Republican nomination for President of the United States until he exited the race after finishing third in the South Carolina Primary on January 22. He resides in McLean, Virginia, near Washington, D.C. [ [ "Profile: Fred Thompson"] , "BBC News" (2007-09-03).]

Early life and education

Thompson was born in Sheffield, Alabama, the son of Ruth Inez (née Bradley, living in 2007 in Franklin, Tennessee) and Fletcher Session Thompson (born Lauderdale County, Alabama, August 26, 1919, died Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, May 27, 1990), who was an automobile salesman/used car dealer. [ [ Fred Dalton Thompson Biography (1942-)] via] cite web |last=Reitwiesner |first=William Addams |title=Ancestry of Fred Thompson |publisher=self-published, non-authoritative |url= |accessdate=2007-04-08] He attended public school in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, graduating from Lawrence County High School. Thereafter, he worked days in the local post office and nights at a bicycle assembly plant. Thompson entered Florence State College, now the University of North Alabama, becoming the first member of his family to go to college. [ "About Fred"] , via (Official Site). Retrieved (2007-07-13).] He later transferred to Memphis State University, now the University of Memphis, where he earned a double degree in philosophy and political science in 1964, as well as scholarships to both Tulane and Vanderbilt law schools. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Vanderbilt in 1967.

Career as an attorney

Thompson was admitted to the State Bar of Tennessee in 1967. At that time he shortened his first name from Freddie to Fred. [cite news|url=|last=Malcolm |first=Andrew|title=Shocking truth about Fred Thompson revealed!|publisher="Los Angeles Times"|date=6 September, 2007 |accessdate=2007-09-06] He worked as an assistant U.S. attorney from 1969 to 1972, [ [ Fred Thompson Hometown Biography] , Lawrenceburg Tennessee] successfully prosecuting bank robberies and other cases. Thompson was the campaign manager for Republican U.S. Senator Howard Baker's reelection campaign in 1972 and was minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee in its investigation of the Watergate scandal (1973–1974).

In the 1980s Thompson worked as an attorney, with law offices in Nashville and Washington, DC, [ [ Fred Thompson for President in 2008 ] ] handling personal injury claims and defending people accused of white collar crimes. [Vogel, Kenneth. [ "Rivals Take Aim At Thompson"] , "CBS News" (2007-06-12). Retrieved 2007-07-08.] He also accepted appointments as Special Counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (1980–1981), Special Counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee (1982), and Member of the Appellate Court Nominating Commission for the State of Tennessee (1985–1987).

His clients included the German mining group and Japan's Toyota Motors Corporation. Thompson has served on various corporate boards. He also did legal work and served on the board of directors for engineering firm Stone & Webster.

Role in Watergate hearings

In 1973, Thompson was appointed minority counsel to assist the Republican senators on the Senate Watergate Committee, a special committee convened by the U.S. Senate to investigate the Watergate scandal.cite news |last=| first= | |publisher=Associated Press|title=Thompson cooperated with White House during Watergate |url=|date=8 March, 2007] Thompson is sometimes credited for supplying Republican Senator Howard Baker's famous question, "What did the President know, and when did he know it?" [cite news | url= | title=Fred Thompson aided Nixon on Watergate | author=Joan Lowy | publisher=Associated Press | date=2007-07-07 | accessdate=2007-12-24] This question is said to have helped frame the hearings in a way that eventually led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon.]

A Republican staff member, Donald Sanders, found out about the White House tapes and informed the committee on July 13, 1973. Thompson was informed of the existence of the tapes, and he in turn informed Nixon's attorney, J. Fred Buzhardt. [cite web
last = Kranish
first = Michael
title = Select Chronology for Donald G. Sanders
work =
publisher = The Boston Globe
date = 2007-07-04
url =
format = HTML
doi =
accessdate =
] "Even though I had no authority to act for the committee, I decided to call Fred Buzhardt at home," Thompson later wrote, [cite book | last =Thompson | first = Fred D.| title ="At That Point in Time: The Inside Story of the Senate Watergate Committee" | publisher=Quadrangle/New York Times | date=1975 | location=New York | url= | isbn=0812905369 ] "I wanted to be sure that the White House was fully aware of what was to be disclosed so that it could take appropriate action."

Three days after Sanders' discovery, Thompson asked former White House aide Alexander Butterfield about listening devices in the White House at a public, televised committee hearing, thereby publicly revealing the existence of tape recordings of conversations within the White House. cite news |last=| first= | |publisher="WMC TV"|title=National Thompson cooperated with White House during Watergate |url=|date=8 March, 2007] cite news |last=Cottle |first=Michelle |url=|title=Another Beltway Bubba? |publisher="Washington Monthly"|date=1 December, 1996 |accessdate=2007-04-08] National Public Radio later called that session and the discovery of the Watergate tapes "a turning point in the investigation." [ "Thompson's Watergate Role Not as Advertised"] by [ Peter Obervy] . National Public Radio. Published November 5, 2007] Thompson's appointment as minority counsel to the Senate Watergate committee reportedly upset Nixon, who believed Thompson was not skilled enough to interrogate unfriendly witnesses and would be outfoxed by committee Democrats. According to historian Stanley Kutler, however, Thompson and Baker "carried water for the White House, but I have to give them credit — they were watching out for their interests, too... They weren't going to mindlessly go down the tubes [for Nixon] ." Lowy, Joan. " [ Fred Thompson Aided Nixon on Watergate] ," Associated Press (2007-07-07).]

Journalist Scott Armstrong, a Democratic investigator for the Senate Watergate Committee, is critical of Thompson for having disclosed the committee's knowledge of the tapes to Buzhardt during an on-going investigation, and says Thompson was "a mole for the White House" and that Thompson's actions gave the White House a chance to destroy the tapes.cite news |last=Kranish |first=Michael |title=Not all would put a heroic sheen on Thompson's Watergate role |publisher="The Boston Globe" |pages=Sec. 1, p. 10 |url= |date =2007-07-04 |accessdate=2007-07-08 and cite news |last= |first= |title=Fred Thompson Aided Nixon on Watergate |publisher="Forbes" |pages=Sec. 1, p. 10 |url= |date =2007-07-04 |accessdate=2007-07-08] Thompson's 1975 book "At That Point in Time" in turn accused Armstrong of having been too close to "The Washington Post"'s Bob Woodward and of leaking committee information to him. In response to renewed interest in this matter in 2007 in the context of his presidential campaign, Thompson said, "I'm glad all of this has finally caused someone to read my Watergate book, even though it's taken them over 30 years."

Corruption case against Tennessee governor

In 1977 Thompson represented Marie Ragghianti, a former Tennessee Parole Board chair, who had been fired for refusing to release felons after they had bribed aides to Democratic Governor Ray Blanton in order to obtain clemency." [ The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture: Leonard Ray Blanton, 1930–1996] . Retrieved 2007-07-31.] With Thompson's assistance, Ragghianti filed a wrongful termination suit against Blanton's office. During the trial, Thompson helped expose the cash-for-clemency scheme that eventually led to Blanton's removal from office. In July 1978, a jury awarded Ragghianti $38,000 in back pay and ordered her reinstatement.


Thompson lobbied Congress on behalf of the Tennessee Savings and Loan League to pass the Garn-St Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982, which deregulated the Savings and Loan industry. A large congressional majority and President Ronald Reagan supported the act but it was said to be a factor that led to the savings and loan crisis. [Leibold, Arthur. "Some Hope for the Future After a Failed National Policy for Thrifts" "in" Barth, James et al. " [,M1 The Savings and Loan Crisis: Lessons from a Regulatory Failure] ", pages 58–59 (2004). Leibold cites Strunk and Case, "Where Regulation Went Wrong: A Look at the Causes Behind Savings and Loan Failures in the 1980s", pages 14–16 (1988).] Thompson received $1,600 for communicating with some congressional staffers on this issue.

When Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was overthrown in 1991, Thompson made a telephone call to White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu advocating restoration of Aristide's government, but says that was as a private citizen, not on a paid basis on Aristide's behalf.Vogel, Kenneth. [ "'Law & Order' And Lobbying"] , "The Politico" (2007-04-02).]

Billing records show that Thompson was paid for about 20 hours of work in 1991 and 1992 on behalf of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, a family planning group trying to ease a George H. W. Bush administration regulation on abortion counseling in federally-funded clinics. [cite news
url= |title=Thompson lobbied for family planning |first= |last= |publisher="San Francisco Chronicle" |date=July 19, 2007 |accessdate=2007-07-19
] [The records show he spent much of that time in telephone conferences with the president of the group. He also spoke to administration officials on its behalf three times for a total of about three hours, but it is unclear who in the administration Thompson spoke with or when. When the work became controversial in 2007 in light of Thompson's pro-life stance and 2008 presidential campaign, a Thompson spokesperson said, "The [lobbying] firm consulted with Fred Thompson. It is not unusual for a lawyer to give counsel at the request of colleagues, even when they personally disagree with the issue." See Jo Becker, [ Records Show Ex-Senator’s Work for Family Planning Unit] , "The New York Times", (2007-07-19). Retrieved 2007-12-22.] Thompson has earned about one million dollars from his lobbying efforts. Except for the year 1981, his lobbying never amounted to more than a third of his income.Locker, Richard. "Thompson tells why lobbyist pay rose with GOP-led Senate", "Commercial Appeal" (1994-11-05).] According to the "Commercial Appeal" newspaper:

Fred Thompson earned about half a million dollars from Washington lobbying from 1975 through 1993....Lobbyist disclosure records show Thompson had six lobbying clients: Westinghouse, two cable television companies, the Tennessee Savings and Loan League, the Teamsters Union's Central States Pension Fund, and a Baltimore-based business coalition that lobbied for federal grants.

After leaving the Senate in 2003, Thompson's only lobbying work was for the London-based reinsurance company Equitas Ltd. He was paid $760,000 between 2004 and 2006 in order to help prevent passage of legislation that Equitas said unfairly singled them out for unfavorable treatment regarding asbestos claims.Dilanian, Ken. [ Past as lobbyist may play into future as candidate] , USA Today (2007-06-06).] Thompson spokesman Mark Corrallo said that Thompson was proud to have been a lobbyist and believed in Equitas' cause. [Birnbaum, Jeffrey. [ "Thompson Will Take On Outsider Role After Playing Access Man"] , "Washington Post", June 12, 2007]

After Thompson was elected to the Senate, two of his sons followed him into the lobbying business,cite news | url= | title=As Senator Rose, Lobbying Became Family Affair | author=David D. Kirkpatrick | publisher=The New York Times | date=2007-07-02 | accessdate=2007-12-22] but generally avoided clients where a possible conflict-of-interest might appear. When he left the Senate, some of his political action committee's fees went to the lobbying firm of one of his sons. [Mullins, Brody. " [ Thompson PAC Benefits Son More Than Republicans] ," "Wall Street Journal" (2007-04-21).]

Character actor

Marie Ragghianti's case became the subject of a book, "Marie", written by Peter Maas and published in 1983. The film rights were purchased by director Roger Donaldson, who, after traveling to Nashville to speak with the people involved with the original case, asked Thompson if he wanted to play himself. The resulting film, "Marie", was Thompson's first acting role and was released in 1985. Roger Donaldson then cast Thompson in the part of CIA Director in the 1987 film "No Way Out".cite news
url= |title=From the Courthouse to the White House
first=Stephen F. |last=Hayes |publisher=Weekly Standard|date=April 23, 2007 |accessdate=2007-05-02
] Thompson would go on to appear in many films and television shows. A 1994 "New York Times" profile wrote "When Hollywood directors need someone who can personify governmental power, they often turn to [Thompson] ."cite news|last=Bragg |first=Rick|title=Grits and Glitter Campaign Helps Actor Who Played a Senator Become One
publisher="The New York Times" |pages=Sec. 1, p. 10 |url=|date =November 12, 1994 |accessdate=2007-04-08
] He has portrayed a fictional president of the United States in "Last Best Chance" as well as two historical presidents: Ulysses S. Grant in "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" (2007) and the voice of Andrew Jackson in "Rachel and Andrew Jackson: A Love Story" (both produced for TV). [Keel, Beverly. [ "On screen, Thompson projects power, wisdom"] , "The Tennessean" (2007-05-08).]

In the final months of his U.S. Senate term in 2002, Thompson joined the cast of the long-running NBC television series "Law & Order", playing District Attorney Arthur Branch for the next five years. Thompson began filming during the August 2002 Senate recess.Lawrimore, Erin. [ "Biography/History"] , University of Tennessee Special Collections Library (2005).]

He has also made occasional appearances in the same role on other TV shows, such as ', ', and the pilot episode of "Conviction". On May 30, 2007, he asked to be released from the role, potentially in preparation for a presidential bid. Due to concerns about the equal-time rule, reruns featuring the Branch character were not shown on NBC while Thompson was a potential or actual presidential candidate, but TNT episodes were unaffected. [ [ "TNT won't pull reruns starring Thompson"] , "Seattle Times" (2007-09-01).]

enate (1994–2003)

Two campaigns for U.S. Senate

In 1994, Thompson was elected to finish the remaining two years of Al Gore's unexpired U.S. Senate term. During the 1994 campaign, Thompson's opponent was longtime Nashville Congressman Jim Cooper. Thompson campaigned in a red pickup truck, and Cooper charged Thompson "is a lobbyist and actor who talks about lower taxes, talks about change, while he drives a rented stage prop." [Powers, William. [ "The Politician's Pickup Lines"] , "Washington Post" (1994-10-21). There is some question about whether Thompson actually did the driving. According to Kevin Drum of the "Washington Monthly", "Thompson didn't even deign to drive the thing himself." Drum, Kevin. [ "Fred Thompson's Red Pick-up Truck"] , "Washington Monthly" (2007-05-07). Retrieved 2007-06-18. Media reports in May and June 2007 said that Thompson still has the truck, which is "parked behind Thompson's mother's home outside Nashville." Chipman, Kim. [ "Thompson's Backers Check His `Fire in the Belly' for 2008 Race"] , "Bloomberg" (2007-06-28). According to "Newsweek", "The paint is peeling and its U.S. Senate license plates expired back in 2002." Bailey, Holly. [ "The Sign of the Red Truck"] , "Newsweek" (2007-05-28). Retrieved 2007-07-10.] In a good year for Republican candidates, [Traub, James. [ "Party Like It's 1994"] , "New York Times Magazine" (2006-03-12): "The Republicans shocked political professionals, including President Bill Clinton, by gaining 52 seats in the House, giving them a majority there for the first time in 40 years. (They picked up eight seats in the Senate to wrest control there as well.)"] Thompson defeated Cooper in a landslide, overcoming Cooper's early 20 percent lead in the polls to defeat him by an even greater margin. [cite news
last =Heilemann| first=John |publisher="New York Magazine"
title=The Shadow Candidates |url= |accessdate=2007-06-18
] On the same night Thompson was elected to fill Gore's unexpired term, political newcomer Bill Frist, a Nashville heart surgeon, defeated three-term incumbent Democrat Jim Sasser, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, for Tennessee's other Senate seat, which was up for a full six-year term. The twin victories by Thompson and Frist gave Republicans control of both of Tennessee's Senate seats for the first time since Sasser ousted incumbent Bill Brock in 1976.

In 1996, Thompson was re-elected (for the term ending January 3, 2003) with 61 percent of the vote, defeating Democratic attorney Houston Gordon of Covington, Tennessee, even as Bill Clinton narrowly carried the state by less than three percentage points on his way to re-election. [ [ "United States of America Presidential Elections of 1996, Electoral College Vote by States"] , Psephos, Adam Carr's Election Archive.] The GOP continues to hold the seat, as it was won by former Tennessee Governor and Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander in 2002.

Electoral history

Election box candidate with party link
party = Republican Party (US)
candidate = Fred Thompson (Incumbent)
votes = 1,091,554
percentage = 61.37
change = +0.93
Election box candidate with party link
party = Democratic Party (US)
candidate = Houston Gordon
votes = 654,937
percentage = 36.82
change =
Election box candidate with party link
party = Independent (politician)
candidate = John Jay Hooker
votes = 14,401
percentage = 0.81
change =
Election box majority
votes = 436,617
percentage = 24.55
change = +2.72
Election box hold with party link
winner = Republican Party (US)
loser =
swing =

Election box candidate with party link
party = Republican Party (US)
candidate = Fred Thompson
votes = 885,998
percentage = 60.44
change =
Election box candidate with party link
party = Democratic Party (US)
candidate = Jim Cooper
votes = 565,930
percentage = 38.61
change =
Election box majority
votes = 320,068
percentage = 21.83
change = -16.07
Election box gain with party link
winner = Republican Party (US)
loser = Democratic Party (US)
swing =

enate career

In 1996, Thompson was a member of the Committee on Governmental Affairs when the committee investigated the alleged Chinese attempts to influence American politics. Thompson says he was "largely stymied" during these investigations by witnesses declining to testify; claiming the right not to incriminate themselves or by simply leaving the country.cite news
last =Fund| first=John |publisher="Wall Street Journal"
title=Lights, Camera ... Candidacy?
date=17 March, 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-08
] Thompson explained, "Our work was affected tremendously by the fact that Congress is a much more partisan institution than it used to be." [Thompson, Fred. [ "Additional Views of Chairman Fred Thompson, Investigation of Illegal or Improper Activities in Connection With 1996 Federal Election Campaigns, Final Report of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, Senate Report 105-167 - 105th Congress 2d Session"] (1998-03-10).]

Thompson became committee chairman in 1997 but was reduced to ranking minority member when the Democrats took control of the Senate in 2001. [Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, [ History of Committee Chairmen] . Retrieved (2007-07-13).] Thompson served on the Finance Committee (dealing with health care, trade, Social Security, and taxation) the Intelligence Committee, and the National Security Working Group. [ [ Sen. Thompson's Official Senate Web Site] (via]

Thompson's work included investigation of the "Umm Hajul controversy" which involved the death of Tennessean Lance Fielder during the Gulf War. During his term he supported campaign finance reform, opposed proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and promoted government efficiency and accountability. During the 1996 presidential debates, he also served as a Clinton stand-in to help prepare Bob Dole.

On February 12, 1999, the Senate voted on the Clinton impeachment. The perjury charge was defeated with 45 votes for conviction, and 55, including Thompson, against. The obstruction of justice charge was defeated with 50, including Thompson, for conviction, and 50 against. Conviction on impeachment charges requires the affirmative votes of 67 senators.

Campaign co-chairman for John McCain

In the 2000 Republican presidential primaries, Thompson backed former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, who eventually succeeded Thompson in the Senate two years later. When Alexander dropped out, Thompson endorsed Senator John McCain's bid and became his national co-chairman. [cite news
last=Neal |first=Terry M. |url=
title=McCain Re-Emerges; Receives Thompson Endorsement
publisher="Washington Post" |date=18 August, 1999
] After George W. Bush won the primaries, both McCain and Thompson were considered as potential running mates. [ [ "Bush: 'The days of speculation are over'"] , "USA Today" (2000-07-22).] [Zuckerbrod, Nancy. [ "Thompson eyed for vice presidential role"] , via 2000-07-03). Retrieved 2007-07-10.]

Thompson was not a candidate for re-election in 2002. He had publicly stated his unwillingness to have the Senate become a long-term career. Although he announced in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks his intention to seek re-election ("Now is not the time for me to leave," said Thompson at the time), upon further reflection he decided against it. The decision seems to have been prompted in large part by the death of his daughter.cite news |url=,8599,1624881,00.html
title=A New Role for Fred Thompson |authorlink=Mark Halperin |last=Halperin |first=Mark |publisher="Time" |date=May 24, 2007


matters that he believed were properly left to state and local officials.

With Thompson's decision to campaign for the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination, his Senate record has received some criticism from people who say he was "lazy" compared to other Senators. [" [ "Thompson and the 'Laziness' Issue"] " "Newsweek" (2007-09-29)] Critics say that few of his proposals became law, and point to a 1998 quote: "I don't like spending 14- and 16-hour days voting on 'sense of the Senate' resolutions on irrelevant matters. There are some important things we really need to get on with—and on a daily basis, it's very frustrating." Defenders say he spent more time in preparation than other Senators. Paul Noe, a former staffer, told the "New York Times," "On the lazy charge, I have to chuckle because I was there sometimes until 1 in the morning working with the man." [" [ "G.O.P. Hopeful Took Own Path in the Senate"] " "The New York Times" (2007-09-29)]

Post-Senate activities

Political work

In March 2003, Thompson was featured in a commercial by the conservative non-profit group Citizens United that advocated the invasion of Iraq, stating: "When people ask what has Saddam done to us, I ask, what had the 9/11 hijackers done to us -- before 9/11."cite news
title=Interview with Mike Boos of Citizens United
authorlink=CNN Saturday Morning News
publisher="CNN" |date=March 1, 2003

Thompson did voice-over work at the 2004 Republican National Convention. [Goldsmith, Brian. [ "Beware The 'Convention Candidates'"] , CBS News (2007-04-20).] While narrating a video for that convention, Thompson observed: "History throws you what it throws you, and you never know what’s coming." [Thompson, Fred. [ "The Pitch"] , via YouTube. Retrieved (2007-07-13).]

After the retirement of Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in 2005, Bush appointed him to an informal position to help guide the nomination of John Roberts through the United States Senate confirmation process. [cite news
url= |title=Hill Veterans Light the Way for Nominee |first=Christopher |last=Lee |publisher="Washington Post" |date=September 9, 2005 |accessdate=2007-07-19
] Roberts was subsequently confirmed as Chief Justice.

Until July 2007, Thompson was Chair of the International Security Advisory Board, a bipartisan advisory panel that reports to the Secretary of State and focuses on emerging strategic threats. [ [ International Security Advisory Board, Former Members] , State Department web site.] In that capacity, he advised the State Department about all aspects of arms control, disarmament, international security, and related aspects of public diplomacy. [ [ International Security Advisory Board] , State Department web site.]

Legal defense for Lewis Libby

In 2006, he served on the advisory board of the legal defense fund for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Jr, who was indicted and later convicted of lying to federal investigators during their investigation of the Plame affair. [] [cite news
url= |title=Libby trial provides a rare look inside the grand jury |first=Kevin |last=Bohn |publisher="CNN" |date=February 9, 2007
] Thompson, who had never met Libby before volunteering for the advisory board, said he was convinced Libby was innocent. The Scooter Libby Legal Defense Fund Trust set out to raise more than $5 million to help finance the legal defense of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. [Loller, Travis. [ "Looking at Thompson's Lobbying Past"] , "ABC News" (2007-06-25).] Thompson hosted a fundraiser for the Libby defense fund at his home in McLean, Virginia. [Copeland, Libby and Montgomery, David. [ "Scooter Libby's Pals, Trusting In Providence"] , "Washington Post" (2007-07-03).] After Bush commuted Libby's sentence, [George W. Bush, [ "Statement by the President"] , "The White House", 2 July, 2007, accessed 2 July, 2007.] Thompson released a statement: "I am very happy for Scooter Libby. I know that this is a great relief to him, his wife and children. This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life." [cite news
url=,2933,287790,00.html |title=Political Leaders Express Outrage, Support for 'Scooter' Libby's Commuted Sentence |first= |last= |publisher="Fox News" |date=July 3, 2007]

Radio analyst

In 2006, he signed on with ABC News Radio to serve as senior analyst and vacation replacement for Paul Harvey. [Miller, Korin. [ Names and Faces] , "The Washington Post" (2006-02-25).] He used that platform to spell out his positions on a number of political issues. A July 3, 2007 update to Thompson's ABC News Radio home page referred to him as a "former ABC News Radio contributor", indicating that Thompson has been released from his contract with the broadcaster. [ [ The Fred Thompson Report] , ABC Radio Networks.] He did not return after his campaign ended.

Campaign for United States President, 2008 election

On March 11 2007, Thompson appeared on "Fox News Sunday" to discuss the possibility of a 2008 candidacy for president. At the end of March, Thompson asked to be released from his television contract, potentially in preparation for a presidential bid."Associated Press" and Cameron, Carl. [,2933,276634,00.html "Fred Thompson Quits 'Law & Order,' Moves Closer to 2008 White House Bid"] , "Fox News" (2007-05-31).] Thompson formed a presidential exploratory committee regarding his possible 2008 campaign for president on June 1, 2007,cite news | title =Fred Thompson to Speak in Richmond | publisher =WHSV TV | date =2007-06-01 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-03 ] but unlike most candidate exploratory groups, Thompson's organized as a 527 group. [cite news | last=Horrigan | first=Marie |title =Fred Thompson’s Long ‘Exploration’ Raises Money — and Confusion | publisher =Congressional Quarterly | date =2007-07-31 | url = | accessdate = 2007-08-08 ]

Thompson continued to be mentioned as a potential candidate, but did not officially declare his candidacy. On June 12, Thompson told Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" that while he did not crave the Presidency itself, there were things he would like to do that he could only do by holding that office. [cite news | title =Thompson Tells Leno He Would Like to Be President | publisher =Fox News | date =2007-06-07 | url =,2933,281596,00.html | accessdate = 2007-06-28 ] A "New York Times" article cited Thompson's aides as saying on July 18 that he planned to enter the race just after Labor Day (the first Monday in September), followed by a national announcement tour. [ Nagourney, Adam. [ "Candidates Shift as G.O.P. Field Alters"] , "NY Times" (2007-07-19).]

On September 5, 2007, Thompson made his candidacy official, announcing on "The Tonight Show" that "I'm running for president of the United States" and running an ad during a Republican Presidential candidates debate on Fox News.cite news |url=|date=2007-09-05 |publisher=Forbes |title=Thompson Finally Steps Onstage |author=Steve McGookin Brief excerpts from the Tonight Show appearance are [ available from NBC] . The full Tonight Show transcript is [] .] In both cases he pointed people to his campaign website to watch a 15-minute video detailing his platform. His campaign entrance was described as "lackluster"cite news|url= | title=Poll: As Thompson's star fades, Clinton's on the rise | author=Bill Schneider | publisher=CNN | date=2007-10-16 | accessdate=2007-10-17] and "awkward" [cite news | url= | title=Thompson debuts as GOP candidates clash | author=Jill Zuckman | publisher=Chicago Tribune | date=2007-10-10 | accessdate=2007-10-17] despite high expectations in anticipation of his joining the race.cite news | title=Let down by Fred Thompson | author= Robert D. Novak | url= | publisher=Washington Post | date=2007-05-07| accessdate=2007-10-17]

In nationwide polling toward the end of 2007, Thompson's support in the Republican primary election was sliding, with his placing either third or fourth in polls. [cite web | url= | title=November 30, 2007 - Presidential Preferences | publisher=American Research Group | date=2007-11-30 | accessdate=2007-12-02] [cite web | url= | title=Daily Presidential Tracking Polling History | publisher=Rasmussen Reports | date=2007-12-02 | accessdate=2007-12-02] Starting with the South Carolina primary, however, he was more aggressively challenging his rivals. [ [ Thompson toughens tactics on the campaign trail - ] ]

On January 22, 2008, after attracting little support in the early primaries, Thompson confirmed he had withdrawn from the Presidential race.cite news | title=CNN Political Ticker: Thompson drops out of GOP Presidential Race | date=2008-01-22 | publisher=CNN | url = | accessdate = 2008-01-22 ] In a statement issued by his campaign, Thompson said:


Thompson has signed an agreement to be returned as an actor with the William Morris Agency. [cite web |first=Lawrence |last=Van Gelder |url= |title=Fred Thompson Seeks Make-Believe Roles |work=The New York Times |date=2008-03-26] He also signed a deal with Salem Communications's to write for the organization's new magazine, "Townhall", in May 2008. [Thompson, Fred. [ The Place to Discuss Our Fundamental Principles] . 15 May 2008.] Thompson recently has founded a new political action committee "Fred PAC" to raise money for conservative candidates. [cite news |first= BILL |last= THEOBALD |url= |title=Thompson announces new committee to help GOP candidates |work=The Leaf-Chronicle |publisher=Gannett News Service |date=August 28, 2008]

He spoke at the 2008 Republican National Convention on September 2 in Minnesota, and described in graphic detail presumptive Republican nominee John McCain's torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese during his imprisonment and gave an endorsement of McCain for President.

Political positions

Thompson has said that federalism is his "lodestar", which provides "a basis for a proper analysis of most issues: 'Is this something government should be doing? If so, at what level of government?'"Thompson, Fred. [,filter.all/pub_detail.asp "Federalism 'n' Me"] , AEI (2007-04-23). Retrieved 2007-05-13.]

Thompson states "Roe v. Wade" was bad law and bad medical science," and that judges shouldn't be determining social policy. [cite news
title = Transcript: Former Sen. Fred Thompson on 'FOX News Sunday'
date = 2007-03-11
accessdate = 2007-06-17
] Thompson has also stated the government should not criminally prosecute women who undergo early term abortions. [,2933,278554,00.html "Exclusive! Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson on Possible White House Bid"] , "Fox News Interview" (2007-06-05).] [Bailey, Holly. " [ Away From the Cameras] ," "Newsweek" (2007-06-25).]

Thompson does not support a federal ban on gay marriage, but would support a constitutional amendment to keep one state's recognition of such marriages from imposing gay marriage on all states. [cite web | publisher =CNN | title=Thompson: Roe bad law and bad medicine | url= |date=August 17, 2007 | accessdate=2007-08-13
cite web |publisher=The Corner |title=Nix That |date=August 17, 2007 |accessdate=2007-08-20 |url=

Thompson says citizens are entitled to keep and bear arms if they do not have criminal recordsThompson, Fred. [ "Armed with the Truth"] , ABC Radio, May 10, 2007. Accessed May 13, 2007.] and the Gun Owners of America says that he voted pro-gun in 20 of 33 gun-related votes during his time in the Senate. [cite web |url= |title=Presidential Candidates And The Second Amendment |author=Craig Fields |publisher=Gun Owners of America ]

Thompson says U.S. borders need to be secured before considering comprehensive immigration reform,Thompson, Fred. [ "Prepared Remarks for Speech to Lincoln Club Annual Dinner"] , ABC Radio, May 4, 2007. Accessed May 13, 2007.] but he also supports a path to citizenship for illegal aliens saying “You’re going to have to, in some way, work out a deal where they can have some aspirations of citizenship, but not make it so easy that it’s unfair to the people waiting in line and abiding by the law.” [ [ YouTube - Fred on the issues ] ] Thompson supported the U.S. 2003 invasion of Iraqand is opposed to withdrawing troops,cite web
title = Thompson: U.S. must rebuild military
date = 2007-08-21
url =
accessdate = 2007-07-02
] but believes "mistakes have been made" since the invasion.cite web
title = Former Sen. Fred Thompson on 'FOX News Sunday'
date = 2007-03-11
url =,2933,258222,00.html
accessdate = 2007-07-02

Thompson initially supported the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation, but now says certain parts should be repealed. [ [,2933,278554,00.html Sean Hannity interview of Fred Thompson] , Fox News, June 6, 2007. Accessed June 9, 2007.]

Thompson is skeptical that human efforts cause global warming and has pointed to parallel warming on several planets such as Mars. [Thompson, Fred. [,pubID.25833/pub_detail.asp "Plutonic Warming"] , AEI, March 22, 2007. Accessed May 13, 2007.]

Personal life

Marriages and children

, both he and his wife worked to pay for his education and support their three children.

The couple divorced in 1985. They have two surviving children, [cite news |url= |title=As Senator Rose, Lobbying Became Family Affair |first=David |last=Kirkpatrick |publisher="New York Times" |date=July 2, 2007] as well as five grandchildren. Thompson's daughter Elizabeth "Betsy" Thompson Panici died from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs on January 30, 2002.cite news |url=,8599,1624881,00.html
title=Has Fred Thompson Found His Role? |authorlink=Mark Halperin |last=Halperin |first=Mark |publisher="Time" |date=May 24, 2007

Prior to his second marriage, Thompson had been romantically linked to country singer Lorrie Morgan, Republican fundraiser Georgette Mosbacher and columnist Margaret Carlson. [Baxter, Sarah. [ "Old Girlfriends Cast Their Vote for Thompson"] , "Times Online" (2007-06-24).] In July 1996, Thompson began dating Jeri Kehn (b. 1966) and the two married almost six years later on June 29 2002. [cite news | url= |title=Reliable Sources |first=Lloyd |last=Grove |publisher="The Washington Post" | date=July 2, 2002 | accessdate=2007-11-20] When Thompson was asked in a December 2007 Associated Press survey of the candidates to name his favorite possession, he humorously replied "trophy wife". [cite news
author = Marc Santora
title = A Little Thompson Humor
publisher = The New York Times
url =
date = 2007-12-15
accessdate = 2007-12-24
] The couple have two children, a daughter and a son. [cite news | url= | title=Fred Thompson's Secret Weapon | publisher=CBNnews | date=April 24 2007 | author=David Brody | accessdate=2007-11-20] [cite news
author = Michelle Cottle
title = Jeri Rigged
publisher = The New Republic
url =
date = 2007-10-22
accessdate = 2007-11-21
] [cite news
author = Mackenzie Carpenter
title = Married to ambition: Not your father's potential first spouse
publisher = Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
url =
date = 2007-08-12
accessdate = 2007-11-26


Thompson has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), a form of cancer. "I have had no illness from it, or even any symptoms. My life expectancy should not be affected. I am in remission, and it is very treatable with drugs if treatment is needed in the future — and with no debilitating side effects," Thompson said.cite news
title=Former Senator Fred Thompson in Remission for Lymphoma
publisher="Fox News"
date=April 11 2007
] Like many patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Thompson received treatment with Rituxan. [cite web
title=Fred Thompson discloses past cancer diagnosis
author=Associated Press |publisher="L.A. Times"
date=May 15, 2007
] Thompson's cancer, though currently incurable, is reportedly indolent, the lowest of three grades of NHL. The cancer is nodal marginal zone lymphoma, a rare form of NHL, that accounts for only one to three percent of all cases. [Bloom, Mark. " [ Fred Thompson, GOP Potential Candidate, Had Rare NHL] ," "MedPage Today" (2007-04-11).]


Thompson is a member of the Churches of Christ. According to Thompson, his values come from "sitting around the kitchen table" with his parents, and from the Church of Christ. While talking to reporters in South Carolina, Thompson said, "I attend church when I'm in Tennessee. I'm [living] in McLean right now. I don't attend regularly when I'm up there."Kim Chipman, [;_ylt=AhXqM0MFIAyTkl69deZbCuiog9IF "Thompson Says He's No Churchgoer, Won't Tout Religion on Stump"] , "Bloomberg" (2007-09-11).] He did not speak much about his religion during his campaign saying, "Me getting up and talking about what a wonderful person I am and that sort of thing, I'm not comfortable with that, and I don't think it does me any good."



* "Marie" (1985)
* "No Way Out" (1987)
* "Feds" (1988)
* "Fat Man and Little Boy" (1989)
* "The Hunt for Red October" (1990)
* "Days of Thunder" (1990)
* "" (1990)
* "Flight of the Intruder" (1991) (uncredited)
* "Class Action" (1991)
* "Necessary Roughness" (1991)
* "Curly Sue" (1991)
* "Cape Fear" (1991)
* "" (1992)
* "Thunderheart" (1992)
* "White Sands" (1992) (uncredited)
* "Born Yesterday" (1993)
* "In the Line of Fire" (1993)
* "Barbarians at the Gate" (1993)
* "Baby's Day Out" (1994)
* "" (2004)
* "Racing Stripes" (2005, voice)
* "Last Best Chance" (2005)
* "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World" (2005)


*"Unholy Matrimony" (1988)
* "Wiseguy" (3 episodes, 1988, as "Knox Pooley")
* "China Beach" (1 episode, 1989, as "Lt. Col. Reinhardt")
* "Roseanne" (1 episode, 1989, as "Keith Faber")
* "Matlock" (1 episode in 1989 as "Gordon Lewis" and 1 episode in 1993 as "Prosecutor Mr. McGonigal")
*"Bed of Lies" (1992)
*"Stay the Night" (1992)
*"Day-O" (1992)
*"Keep the Change" (1992)
*"Barbarians at the Gate" (1993)
* "Sex and the City" (1 episode, 2000, as "Politician on TV")
*"Rachel and Andrew Jackson: A Love Story" (2001)
* "Law & Order" (116 episodes, 2002-2007)
* "" (11 episodes, 2003–2006)
*"Evel Knievel" (2004)
* "" (1 episode, 2005)
* "" (13 episodes, 2005-2006)
* "Conviction" (1 episode, 2006)
*"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" (2007)


External links

* [ Fred Thompson Political Action Committee]
* [ The Fred Thompson Report] , ABC Radio Networks (official site)
* [ The Official YouTube Page for Fred Thompson] (official video site)
* [ The Official Flickr Page for Fred Thompson] (official photo site)
* [ The Fred Thompson Papers] , University of Tennessee (official archive)
* [ Federal Election Commission - Fred Dalton Thompson] campaign finance reports and data
* [ Archive of United States Senator Fred Dalton Thompson Congressional Website] (From Internet Archive retrieved 3 January 2007)
*imdb name | id = 0000669 | name = Fred Dalton Thompson acting career;Documentaries, topic pages and databases
* [ On the Issues - Fred Thompson] issue positions and quotes
*Center for Responsive Politics (aka campaign contributions
* [ Complete text and audio and video of Fred Thompson's GOP Presidential Candidacy Announcement]
* [ Complete text and audio and video of Fred Thompson's 2008 Republican National Convention Speech]
** [ 2002 (Senator)] [ 2000 (Senator)] [ (Senator)] [ 1996 (Senator)] [ 1994 (Member of Congress)]
* [ Project Vote Smart - Fred Thompson]
* [ "Washington Post" "Congress Votes Database: Fred Thompson"] voting record
*dmoz|Regional/North_America/United_States/Society_and_Culture/Politics/Candidates_and_Campaigns/Presidential/2008/Candidates/Thompson,_Fred;News media
* [,0,4408737.photogallery?coll=la-home-center LA Times - Fred Thompson: The Early Years] photo gallery
* [ - Fred Thompson] biography from hometown newspaper
* [ Nashville Post - The Fred Files] Lobbying disclosures, 1975–1994.
* [ New York Times - Fred D. Thompson] collection of news stories and commentary

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