LOS ANGELES – Fred Thompson didn't enter the 2008 presidential race Tuesday, but he talked like he was getting close to jumping in.
Asked by Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" if he'd like the nation's top job, the former Tennessee senator said, "I've never craved the job of president, but I want to do some things that only a president can do."
"So," Thompson added, "the answer is yes."
He insisted he wasn't ready to make any announcements on Leno's couch, but made a point to mention the Web site for his political committee. When asked by Leno about his reaction to the political waters, Thompson said he found them "warm."
"I'm at a stage of my life now when I think about my country, I think about the kind of country my kids are going to grow up in," he said.
He griped about campaigns that "are entirely too long." And he took a swipe at Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, saying she was "trying to balance ... her prior positions with the new requirements of politics in the Democratic Party."
If he runs, it will be as a Washington outsider.
Referring to his time in the U.S. Senate, he said, "I often say after eight years in Washington, I longed for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood."