'Law & Order' Star Rises to Top of '08 Presidential Pack

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," March 28, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: "You Decide 2008" and the contender that you should definitely keep your eye on. He's a lawyer turned movie star turned U.S. senator turned TV star. A new poll indicates he stands a good chance to turn into the next president of the United States. "Big Story" correspondent Douglas Kennedy has more on Fred Thompson's star power.

DOUGLAS KENNEDY, BIG STORY CORRESPONDEN: Yeah, John, and I know you know that Fred Thompson is still on the cast.

GIBSON: He's still the star of "Law & Order," and I misspoke. I'm sorry.

KENNEDY: OK, good. But this is really heating up, and it's heating up because Fred Thompson said he might be interested in running. He has already climbed to No. 3 in a poll of Republican voters. It's a groundswell Thompson loyalists say could convince the star of the small screen to go for it.


KENNEDY (VOICE OVER): He's a lawyer, and he also plays one on TV. In addition, he is a former U.S. senator. Just three of the reasons why Fred Thompson has a growing number of boosters who want to draft him to run for president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has charisma kind of coming out of his ears.

KENNEDY: Like Ronald Reagan who ran for office after making movies, the current star of "Law & Order" has dabbled in both acting and politics, as far back as the Watergate scandal. And like the Gipper his supporters hope Thompson's charisma can carry him to the White House. Tennessee Congressman Zach Wamp is heading the "Draft Thompson" movement.

REP. ZACH WAMP, R-TENN.: Someone who is media friendly, comfortable in front of a camera, comfortable in front of people, anywhere, anytime, it's a big advantage.

KENNEDY: In addition, Wamp says Thompson is a real conservative and could be a right-of-center alternative to front-runners Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, neither of whom has been embraced wholeheartedly by evangelicals.

Thompson's negatives include being on his second marriage as well as a lack of funds. This year the potential candidate will be getting a relatively late start on fundraising. He currently has no exploratory committee, no campaign staff, and no money in the bank. Wamp says all of that could change in an instant.

WAMP: Tennessee has a strong history of raising money on the Republican side nationally and Lamar Alexander raised $25 million when he ran for president before. We have a strong team that will come together.


KENNEDY: Wamp says he plans to come together with Thompson and a group of congressional leaders in exactly three weeks from today. He says Thompson will gage his support and after that decide whether he should run. So John, lots of people waiting for Fred Thompson's decision now.

GIBSON: And I'm waiting and watching "Law & Order." Douglas Kennedy, thank you very much.

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