'Fred Heads' Fuel Thompson's Likely Presidential Run

By Evan Moore | July 7, 2008 | 8:32pm EDT

(CNSNews.com) - As former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) continues to gear up for a likely presidential campaign, a significant amount of his support is coming from an Internet community of supporters known as "Fred Heads."

Perhaps the most prominent gathering ground of these devotees is FredThompsonFacts.com, a Web site filled with "Awesome Facts About Fred Thompson."

These "heavily researched" statements are in the motif of another Internet phenomenon, the Chuck Norris Facts, which are outlandish statements about the vim, vigor and achievements of the action-movie star.

According to the Web site, Sen. Thompson "vows not only to win in Iraq but also to forcefully free Vietnam from Communism, thus giving America a perfect win/loss record for wars again." He "once stood on our south border and glared at Mexico. There was no illegal immigration for a month." Also, his "sense of strategy is so great that he can checkmate you using only a pawn and a knight."

FredThompsonFacts.com also declares that Iran wants nuclear weapons out of fear of Fred Thompson, and that the real cause of global warming is "[his] burning rage."

Andrew Matheny, the site's 17-year-old webmaster, told Cybercast News Service: "We've had about 15,000 page views and about 40,000 hits from at least 2,000 unique visitors every month. That's as much as our statistics software will tell us." Other means to increase site traffic, such as HTML badges and a Facebook application, were recently created.

Matheny was upbeat on Sen. Thompson's presidential prospects, saying that "his campaign can only go uphill. He may be a latecomer, but he can definitely close the gap on fund raising, and with the coming collapse of John McCain's campaign (believe me, it's going to happen), Thompson definitely has the chance to fill that vacuum and grab that 9 percent in the polls...

"[Thompson] may be focused on the media right now, but he definitely is building a grassroots following, especially on the Internet."

He later stated, "I trust Fred Thompson," which he could not say of the other candidates in the GOP primary field. He added that he was excited by the senator's emphasis on federalism in his campaign.

"As far as the Washington punditry goes," Matheny added, "I think that sometimes they get a little over-analytical and a little too orthodox. The American people don't look at how the inner workings of someone's campaign are running; they look at the candidate, his message and whether or not he's trustworthy and presidential."

Mainline conservatives dubious

However, in an interview with Cybercast News Service, Craig Shirley, a conservative public relations expert and author of "Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All," was skeptical of the Tennessean's run, so far.

"Politics is motion," and Shirley would say to the senator, "'Fred, you're not in motion. You're not saying anything interesting; you're not doing anything interesting.'"

Regarding Thompson's eight-year service in the Senate, Shirley said: "He was in the middle of the mainstream of the Republican caucus. He certainly wasn't the most liberal and he wasn't the most conservative. I think his Lifetime Conservative Rating was about 86 percent, which puts him firmly on the right, but not deeply into it with a 100 percent rating or a 95 percent rating. He was somewhere above a John McCain and below a Jesse Helms.

"The conservative icons in the Senate were Laxalt and Helms and people like that; people who took on big fights over government spending, the First Amendment, national defense, Vietnam, Soviet Communism and Soviet adventurism," said Shirley.

"Even if they didn't run for president, they became great with causes, and thus they all had a story to tell," he stated. "Reagan, though he wasn't in the Senate, had a story to tell. The question for Fred Thompson is: 'Does he have a story to tell?'"

Shirley agreed with Matheny that the senator's emphasis on federalism was "very much to his credit." In the Senate, Thompson was the lone dissenter on a vote to implement a national standard for driving under the influence. Thompson's answer, said Shirley, "would have made the Founding Fathers very proud: that this is none of the national government's business, this is the business of the states."

However, Shirley downplayed comparisons of Thompson to President Ronald Reagan, saying that "[B]y the time Reagan was nominated in 1980, he already had over 30 years invested in the conservative movement... [F]rom the late forties up until 1980, [he] had traveled millions of miles traversing this country speaking out on Communism, campaigning for Republican candidates, campaigning for conservative candidates, testifying before Congress on the Panama Canal treaties, testifying before Congress on SALT II, speaking at national conventions, speaking at state conventions, speaking at county conventions, speaking at conservative events, doing his twice-a-week columns, doing his five-times-a-week radio commentaries in the Seventies.

"Reagan had given a lot to the conservative movement, and a lot of credit is due to him to the growth, development and success of the conservative movement long before he ever won the nomination in 1980."

Fundraising footnotes

The American Spectator's Jennifer Rubin reported that Fred Thompson's $3.4 million raised in June was predominately raised in the South. Approximately 80 percent of that money was raised from donors in Tennessee, with much of the remainder coming from other Southern states, such as Virginia, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina.

Thompson's earnings are perceived as disappointing, as Thompson campaign officials had said that they were expecting to raise $5 million in June.

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