Jim Geraghty has a great article over at NY Sun Politics about Fred Thompson. There is lots of talk about filling the conservative void, but I think that the more interesting discussion is about gun owners, the NRA, and interest groups:
One powerful organization that may breathe easier at news of a Thompson bid is the National Rifle Association. Each of the "big three" Republican presidential frontrunners has a glaring flaw in the eyes of the organization, although the group has not sought to emphasize its disagreements with the trio.
By comparison, Mr. Thompson’s relationship with gun-rights groups is sterling. A 2000 report from a campaign-finance watchdog group, Common Cause, found that the NRA, Gun Owners of America, and the Georgia Gun Owners PAC donated $188,954 to Mr. Thompson between 1993 and 1999; the groups donated more only to Dr. Frist. ( Mr. Thompson was elected in a special election in 1994.)
I have argued in the past that gun owners are a particularly important part of the GOP coalition, especially in New Hampshire. While I still have a lot of questions about a Fred Thompson candidacy — starting with: do people know what they would be buying? — I think that this article makes an excellent point.
An interesting exercise would be to go through the main interest groups and see what they are saying about the candidates, including Fred Thompson. Ultimately, I suspect that it would take some kind of unanimity on the behalf of the groups to really make his candidacy viable. George Allen was on his way to being anointed by the DC-based interest groups. Something similar may be necessary here.