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Report: Fred! may pick up McCain’s leftovers

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By Michelle Malkin  •  July 9, 2007 08:45 AM

Remember all those John McCain ’08 staffers let go by the dying campaign? Looks like they may get new life–recycled as Fred Thompson ’08 staffers. Um, am I the only one who thinks this would be a bad move for Fred? The New York Sun reports:

The downsizing of Senator McCain’s presidential campaign is coming at an opportune time for Fred Thompson, the former Tennessee senator who is likely to jump into the race officially any day now and seeking to build a campaign staff in the early primary states.

Struggling with a shortage of cash, Mr. McCain’s campaign announced last week that it was laying off dozens of staff members, including about half of his paid team in Iowa and New Hampshire.

While there is no evidence of an outright pillaging of Mr. McCain’s departed aides, Republican sources in those states say Mr. Thompson’s emerging campaign is the likeliest landing spot. Aside from Mr. Thompson’s obvious need for staff — assuming he enters the race — the two are closely aligned ideologically, and Mr. Thompson even endorsed Mr. McCain when he sought the White House in 2000.

Er, not exactly something the Thompson campaign should remind grass-roots conservatives of too often.

Meanwhile, even Thompson’s top boosters are getting impatient with Thompson’s political game of footsie:

Mr. Thompson does not have paid staff in New Hampshire yet, but his top boosters there include a former state representative, Daniel Hughes, and a longtime political consultant, William Cahill. They are just waiting for the signal, Mr. Hughes said yesterday.

“I wish we had a green light to go and organize and do our thing,” he said. Mr. Hughes organized Mr. Thompson’s first appearance as a potential candidate in the state late last month, at a fund-raiser for Republicans in the state Senate…

…Exactly when Mr. Thompson will officially join the fray remains unclear, but his supporters are at the ready. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I got a call tomorrow,” Mr. Hughes said.

Political strategists say he has played the waiting game well, allowing the support and speculation to build and watching as he has jumped to the top of some polls without even entering the race.

Mr. Thompson’s unofficial status also holds off the increased press scrutiny that comes with being a candidate, but that may not last much longer. Articles have begun to crop up scrutinizing his past as a Washington lobbyist and his record on abortion, a key social issue.

And his backers may get antsy if he waits much longer. As Mr. Hughes put it: “People like me are going to say, ‘Fish or cut bait. It’s time to go.’”

Chop-chop!

***

Here’s FT’s latest blog post on his visit with Young Republicans in Florida.

And this is getting e-mailed around–a new pro-Fred spot endorsing “A Different Kind of Candidate:”

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Categories: Fred Thompson

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