Fred Thompson to Run Ad During GOP Debate

Fred Thompson will be running a television commercial directing viewers to his campaign website during tonight’s Republican debate.

As a veteran actor, Fred Dalton Thompson knows something about entering a stage. It’s all about the build-up. The former Tennessee senator plans to announce his official entry into the Republican presidential contest on Thursday. But he’ll pique interest first on Wednesday with an ad aired during a GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire that Thompson will otherwise skip.

By then he will have taped an appearance on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, which will air about an hour after the debate ends in many U.S. households. Come midnight, he’ll post a 15-minute video announcement on his official Web site.

The face time with Leno and the debate ad on Fox News Channel are the coquettish moves of a candidate who has already proven his aptitude using the media, from television to the Internet. While his main rivals — Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and John McCain — parry debate questions, Thompson will pretty much control his own message.

Thompson aides want as many eyes on the Web video as possible. The debate ad and a follow-up commercial on Thursday will instruct viewers to go online and get their undiluted message straight from the candidate. “We think one of the strongest weapons this campaign has is Fred Thompson’s ability to connect directly with the public,” said Todd Harris, Thompson’s communications director. “We want to drive as much traffic as possible to the Web site.”

It’s a shrewd move from a marketing standpoint, although I’d prefer substance rather than flash after this long flirtation with a candidacy. But, as usual, I’m not the target audience here.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. The Washington Post has the commercial on The Trail weblog.

    Disclaimer: I work for Friends of Fred Thompson.