As Chris noted here yesterday, former Tennessee Senator and actor Fred Thompson has all but made it official that he is running for president in 2008.

The Nashville Tennessean had this article yesterday entitled "Thompson says he plans to run, wants to be 2008's outsider."

Relating an anecdote about creating an internet hit piece on Michael Moore, the article dropped a couple of names familiar to blogger Andy Axel at KnoxViews:

"And Mark Corallo and Ed McFadden had that camera there in 40 minutes," Jeri, who is sitting in on the interview, breaks in. Corallo and McFadden, aides to John Ashcroft when he was U.S. attorney general, have been helping Thompson behind the scenes.

Andy continues:

So, Mr. Former Senator (resident of McLean, VA and employee of NYC-based Dick Wolf Productions) has Mr. "former RNC communications director for Victory 2000" and Mr. "former speechwriter for John Ashcroft" already on speed dial. Hmm. Continuing DC experience... DC hacks on board... Where do the outsider bonafides begin?

He notes that Tennessee D.C. insiders Rep. Zach Wamp and former Senator Howard Baker, Jr. are on board. (The article says they were, in fact, the ones who first encouraged Thompson to run.)

Andy also notes that Thompson's latest wife, Jeri Kehn, was a "political operative working out of the D.C. firm of Verner Liipfert Bernhard McPherson & Hand around the time that they married. Her resume also includes stints at the Senate Republican Conference and the Republican National Committee."

If that's not connected enough, Politico reports:

The [Thompson campaign] chief operations officer will be Thomas J. Collamore, a former aide to Vice President George H.W. Bush and former vice president of public affairs for Philip Morris Companies Inc. In the George H.W. Bush administration, Collamore was an assistant secretary of commerce under Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher. In the Reagan administration, he was special assistant to Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige.

That reflects the pedigrees of some of the key Republicans who are likely to join the campaign, advisers say. Republicans from the grass-roots level to President Bush's inner circle have expressed frustration with the current field of candidates, and so Thompson initially will likely get a lot of fawning attention from party leaders and the news media.

But wait, there's more:

Another rumored top Thompson staffer is Tim Griffin, the RNC operative who Karl Rove recently installed as US Attorney for Eastern Arkansas as part of Attorneygate [As Chris mentioned yesterday].

His spokesman is Mark Corallo [mentioned above], the former press flack for Karl Rove during the Scooter Libby trial.

Other "outside" inside-the-beltway baseball on Sen. Thompson's resume includes being a federal prosecutor and Watergate counsel, and a little moonlighting as a lobbyist on the side:

In case you were curious, Thompson represented Westinghouse and General Electric in the deregulation of the savings and loan industry, which eventually led to the S&L crisis of the 1980s. After leaving the Senate in 2002, he was paid $760,000 to protect the British reinsurance company Equitas from asbestos claims. He registered to represent foreign clients such as deposed Haitian leader Jean Baptiste Aristide, Toyota and a German mining company.


In 1994, Thompson's Democratic opponent, Congressman Jim Cooper, called him "a Gucci-wearing, Lincoln-driving, Perrier-drinking, Grey Poupon-spreading millionaire Washington special interest lobbyist."

Aw, shucks. That's just Ol' Fred bein' Fred, the down-to-earth "outsider" candidate.

Now that Fred Thompson is in, we're waiting for the other shoe to drop -- Al Gore's. Wouldn't it be a political spectacle of epic proportions if these two good ol' Tennessee boys were to square off out behind the barn in 2008? Developing...