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The Republican White Knight?

On the heels of a Bob Novak column suggesting that conservatives are all giddy about Fred Thompson's possible presidential bid, Chris Cillizza makes a persuasive case for why Thompson should hop in the race. It's so persuasive, in fact, that I was trying to figure out what the knock on Thompson was back in 2000, when he was mentioned as a possible VP pick. Here's one tidbit, from a piece Mike did a few years ago:

Tennessee Republican Fred Thompson, once hailed as a presidential contender, also saw his standing plummet after his failed inquiry into foreign donations to the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign. When his hearings convened, Thompson boldly claimed he would reveal a coordinated plot by the Chinese government to influence American elections. In the end he unearthed plenty of slimy activity, but his hearings, as The New York Times put it, "produced [not] a shred of public evidence to substantiate Senator Thompson's charge of Chinese influence."

Wacky behavior, sure, but presumably not the sort of thing that will come back to haunt him. Here's another rumor from 2000:

Sen. Fred Thompson is said to have hurt his vice-presidential chances when his name was linked romantically to that of Margaret Carlson. The Time columnist and "Capital Gang" regular is reportedly too liberal for George W. Bush.

Weird. Although this probably says more about Bush than anyone else. At any rate, I can't tell if there's anything to the rumors of a Thompson run, but it seems halfway plausible. He has the all-powerful Law & Order vote locked up, after all. And according to this report, his "close friendship" with John McCain seems to be the only thing holding him back...

--Bradford Plumer