Fri, Sep 07, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Finally, Fred Thompson joins the White House race

AFP , DES MOINES, IOWA

After months of hints and false starts, screen star and Republican ex-senator Fred Thompson yesterday launched his run for president, promising to stop "another Clinton" from seizing the White House.

Thompson, star of movies like The Hunt for Red October and television crime show Law & Order, hopes to follow Republican idol Ronald Reagan from the silver screen to the Oval Office.

"My friends, I come to you today to tell you that I intend to run for president," Thompson, who is running second to Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani in national polls, said in a video Webcast. "I feel deeply that I am doing it for the right reasons. I love my country and I am concerned about its future."

The craggy ex-senator with a plain-spoken manner and folksy southern charm is wooing core conservatives unhappy with their field, and who fear Democrat Hillary Clinton may follow her husband Bill to the presidency.

Thompson, scheduled to set off later yesterday on a swing through Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, which hold early nominating contests next year, vowed to protect the US from looming economic and security threats.

In his Internet video, he said he would battle extremists "willing to take as long as necessary to bring the United States and our allies to our knees, while killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people."

Thompson painted Iraq and Afghanistan as central fronts in the US "war on terror" and warned "if we abandon our efforts or appear weak and divided, we will pay a heavy price for it in the future."

As Republicans watch Clinton dominate the Democratic polls, Thompson said conservative principles had helped Republicans avenge Bill Clinton's 1992 election win by seizing control of Congress two years later.

"Now you don't want to have to come back from another Clinton victory. Our country needs us to win next year, and I am ready to lead that effort," he said.

He tried to flesh out the personal myth-making and appeal to the American dream that is an integral part of all presidential campaigns.

"My story is an American story ... where a small town kid of modest means and modest goals grows up to realize that he has been a very lucky person," he said.

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