Turning Up the Heat on Fred Thompson
Music City, USA
If the sweltering 96 degree heat in Nashville at a fundraiser/reception this week for Fred Thompson is any indication of the political heat he's taking from faithful supporters to get on with it and announce his candidacy for President, then it doesn't seem like it can stay this hot much longer.
Fortunately for supporters, friends and family alike---including his 87-year old mother Ruth, his oldest son Tony, state politicos like former Republican Governor Winfield Dunn, current U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn and country music singers like Cowboy Troy Coleman and John Rich---it was Fred himself who gave the near-term weather forecast they all wanted to hear:
"We're getting very, very close," Thompson said during a short speech outside the beautiful West Nashville home of attorney Gary and Lou Ann Brown where this event took place. Brown is an attorney with Baker Donelson, Howard Baker's law firm, in Nashville. (He also worked for Thompson as special counsel on the U.S. Senate committee on Governmental Affairs in 2002 at the time his good friend then Senator Thompson was the topranking member of that committee.)
"Sometime in the next few weeks, we'll officially have our hat in the ring."
A few minutes earlier, country music star John Rich of the duo Big and Rich had serenaded the crowd while they mostly huddled inside to stay cool. But when Fred went outside, his devoted fans followed him out to the heat.
It was now looking like Labor Day to the well-heeled, enthusiastic supporters who gathered to hear Fred up close and personal. They sipped any-and-everything that had ice in it. It was a classic Music City political gathering, complete with businessmen, politicians, country music singers and enthusiastic well-wishers.
Like a cool breeze blowing away the stifling air he continued: "We're right where we want to be. I've already saved us over $50,000,000 by waiting to announce. I'm doing in several months what others have been working on for years, and in some cases for a lifetime. In the spring with no money raised, I was in second or third place."
"We got sued several weeks ago by a liberal blogger. It's the first time in history someone has been sued for not announcing on time." Thompson was referring to a complaint filed this week by blogger Lane Hudson with the FEC against Thompson's "testing the waters" suit exempting him from federal election laws. Under this status, Thompson does not have to disclose how much money he's raised, until he becomes an official candidate.
The crowd roared its approval, as trays of petit bacon/ tomato sandwiches with hollandaise were passed.
Then Fred introduced his mother, Ruth, 87, sitting in the front row. A woman of considerable height, she is nevertheless dwarfed by the height of her son. Wearing a lovely pink silk dress, soft-spoken and somewhat frail, she indicated just through her presence that she was his greatest fan.
"It's great to have my mother here. It's also nice to be back home where people know how to sing a song," referring to several country music singers at the party. "Because of this heat, I'm not going to give you all the full load tonight."
It was fine with the crowd that he didn't cover every topic; he was preaching to the choir of the faithful anyway.
Fred went on to some serious matters anway and how "the chickens were soon coming home to roost" on a number of issues that must--sooner rather than later--- be addressed by the American people in a series of "honest conversations."
"The War on Terror and in Iraq is number one on our agenda, with securing the borders a close second. "
"We, as a nation, have got to be strong, unified and tough-minded as never before, even as the people's cynicism towards their government is at an all time high, and the approval rating of Congress is at historical lows," Fred continued.
He then commented on several other troubling issues: "Some of our retirement programs are on a collision course with our government's ability to pay for them and it's going to bankrupt future generations. I believe we're got to start talking about this in the public arena before it's too late."
"When is Congress going to get it once and for all that the way to higher revenues is by lowering rather than raising taxes? That's what's happened in the past 6 years and it makes the whole pie get bigger."
Then as any entertainer worth his salt knows, it was time to leave them wanting more of him rather than less, and so he closed his talk and helped escort his mother back into the air conditioned house, as guests scattered to rehash the good news.
Back in the home of the supporter who had hosted this reception for Thompson, Fred stopped to sit on the sofa for a few minutes with his mother , daughter-in-law and grand daughter. Four generations of a family that had humble beginnings in the small town of Lawrenceberg, Tennessee over sixty years ago were sitting there and enjoying family moment in cooler air. It was a sweet moment.
I had just a minute or to query both Ruth and Fred.
Did she ever think Fred would be running for president of the United States? I asked. She assured me while she hadn't until recently, she clearly thought it was a good idea now.
"I know Fred well enough to know when he makes up his mind to do something, he does it. I know he'll do well and can certainly win."
Then I turned to Fred and asked if it was his mother that had taught him his conservative values?
He became a conservative from experience, he said.
"Life taught me about being a conservative. And after reading Conscience of a Conservative, I became even more fervent in the principles that I believe in and am now running on."
I thanked Fred and told him I was going to report on this event for Pajamas Media. He seemed very happy to hear it and said he has written for Pajamas too.
With the crunch of the crowd coming into the room, I let it go at that. It was time for me to leave before I ate one too many bacon/tomato sandwiches and cold asparagus dipped in artichoke sauce.
I was glad to get the latest Fred-Thompson-for-President weather forecast. And now all there is to do is see if all goes as predicted in the next few weeks.
Jane Whitson is covering the Nashville scene for Pajamas Media. Her previous article for Pajamas was on Tennessee's other favorite son.
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