Wamp: Thompson is close to joining ’08 race

Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) on Monday said he expects former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) soon to join the 2008 race for the White House.

“My view is that he’ll enter the race at some point just in the coming days,” Wamp, a key Thompson supporter, said.

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The congressman said the actor-turned-senator-turned-actor did not want to make a premature bid but is “doing everything a presidential candidate should do.”

Thompson long has been anticipated to enter the race officially — the “Law & Order” star has been traveling the country and raising millions of dollars. He will take part in a large fundraising event in Washington on July 29, but Wamp did not say when a formal announcement might come. He said, however, that “a couple dozen members” of the House would publicly offer support to Thompson at the event.

With regard to the race for the Republican nomination, Wamp said he believes it will come down to Thompson and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

With Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) campaign fading, Wamp said he believes Thompson, Romney and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani will become the “big three” in the Republican primary.

“I’ve talked to quite a few of McCain’s supporters in the House of Representatives, a couple in the United States Senate, that are concerned about McCain’s standing right now and the fact that he’s lost his momentum,” Wamp said on MSNBC. He added that Thompson is the second choice of many McCain supporters.

Wamp also said that with conservatives determining who will be the GOP candidate, Giuliani’s chances are poorer than those of Thompson and Romney.

“I feel like Giuliani’s running on 9/11 fumes and those fumes are slowly evaporating because there’s got to be the substance and the policy,” Wamp said. “And [Giuliani] doesn’t connect with the base of our party.”

Thompson is continuing his fundraising efforts with an event scheduled to take place tonight in Baton Rouge, La.
Much like earlier fundraisers in Nashville and Atlanta, the ticket price is $2,300, the maximum amount an individual can contribute to a federal candidate. The Atlanta event reportedly brought in more than $400,000.

Because Thompson is still in the “testing the waters” phase as allowed by the FEC, he did not have to file a quarterly fundraising report this past Sunday.

Most accounts point to a growing war chest containing millions of dollars.