From Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder:
For President of the United States, I will be backing former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson and urging support for him among friends and colleagues.
Thompson is clearly the choice for the Republican nomination for a host of reasons. First, a little history.
Thirty-nine years ago this spring found this 8th grader actively backing the nascent presidential bid of a first-term California governor named Ronald Reagan against the favorite (and eventual nominee), former Vice President Richard Nixon. History has recorded how that one turned out. Listening to and reading elders whom I found persuasive, I believed in: a) the unbounded leadership capacity and historic mission of Gov. Reagan; and b) the un-wisdom of turning the Republican Party over to Mr. Nixon.
Fast forward eight years to my college days. The spring of ‘76 found a gallant former Gov. Reagan, the beau ideal of our doughty band of conservatives, mounting an historic, unforgettable, magnificently inspiring insurgency for the GOP nomination against an unelected President Gerald Ford. Establishment Republicans recoiled against Reagan, telling us Ford was the safe choice, the electable one. (He wasn’t.)
Missouri Attorney General Jack Danforth asked me to abandon my Reagan commitment as a delegate to the convention and switch to Ford. I respectfully declined, standing by the Californian. As Reagan vaulted easily over leadership hurdles where so many others have faltered, a new term — Reagan Democrats — entered American political discourse, to describe the converts by the millions he added to our ranks.
Trust me, fellow Republicans, when I say this: Fred Thompson is the real deal, the closest thing to a natural we’ve had (or are likely to see) since Reagan.
Begin with this: Sen. Thompson is a conservative solidly within the mainstream of his party in a country that still wants to be governed by a center-right coalition. That is, if we Republicans can prove ourselves once again worthy of the trust of Americans who became progressively more disgusted with congressional Republicans through 2006. Thompson, who left Washington four years ago, is untainted by the debacles of 2005-’06.
Proceed to this: Thompson won his two Senate races by the amazing margins of more than 20 points, as he noted recently, “in a state Clinton carried twice.” The meaning of these victories is that Thompson has demonstrated crossover appeal, as Democrats in that great state voted for him both times, by the tens if not hundreds of thousands.
Thompson, of big screen and TV, has a star power, unmatched by any other candidate — an appeal rightly feared by our Democratic friends.
Listen carefully to Thompson as he fills-in these days for radio master Paul Harvey, and you’ll hear echoes of the great Reagan magic. (Reagan also turned to enormously effective radio commentary during his out-years ‘76-’80.) I smiled the other day as I heard Thompson conclude the Harvey show he’s been doing lately. Just a simple, “Let’s get together again tomorrow,” he gently urges his listeners, and the program is over.
What comes through is a genuine, Tennessee neighborliness you can’t fake. It’s also the kind of friendly discourse we speak in the border-state and Midwestern precincts I call home, where any candidate will need to prevail next year.
Fred Thompson is the man.
Submitted by Peter D. Kinder
Lt. Governor of Missouri