Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The juggernaut solidifies...

From The Fix:

Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) is growing more and more serious about a run for president, installing a former aide to President George H.W. Bush as his "campaign manager in waiting."

Tom Collamore, a former vice president of public affairs at Altria, has been leading the behind-the scenes organization efforts for a Thompson presidential candidacy and will be intimately involved when (not if) the former senator decides to announce a bid.

Collamore joined the Reagan administration in 1981 as special assistant to Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige. He was named staff secretary to Vice President George H.W. Bush in 1985 and was part of Bush's transition team when he won the White House in 1988. Collamore was then named assistant secretary of Commerce in 1989. In 1992, Collamore joined Philip Morris Cos., which became Altria in 2003.

The decision to put Collamore atop the Thompson campaign reflects a desire to have a learned Washington hand at the tiller -- even as Thompson is positioning himself as a conservative outsider in this contest. It also shows that Thompson will not seek simply to replicate the political network of former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). While Frist is an informal adviser to Thompson, his campaign people have largely been kept out of the loop as Thompson prepares to make a run.
And that run will come none too soon:
...The buzz continues to grow that Thompson will indeed join the race sometime before the end of June. At last week's Republican debate in South Carolina, flyers were handed out in the media filing center that had a glossy picture of Thompson and touted endorsements from the likes of Reps. Gresham Barrett (SC.), Jeff Miller (Fla.), Don Manzullo (Ill.) and Steve Buyer (Ind.). The flyer was sponsored by the Draft Thompson effort.

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