I also remember when Thompson served as U.S. Senator out of his home state of Tennessee. He won a special election in 1994, joining a Republican wave that gave the GOP complete control of Congress for the first time in 40 years. He would claim a regular election victory in 1996 but did not seek reelection upon completion of that term.
Yes, I've long been an admirer of Thompson, even contributing to a blog back in 2007 promoting his candidacy for President. While the initial enthusiasm for Thompson's presidential run was there in the summer of 2007, the campaign never really took off once he officially entered the race. A poor showing in the South Carolina primary in January 2008 (a state he focused on from the get go) effectively ended his bid.
Over the next 7+ years, Thompson was still a prolific commentator, particularly on social media (The Daily Signal compiled a sizable list of Thompson's best quotes). Given that I am such a Twitter addict, it was a pleasant surprise when Thompson became one of my "followers!!!"
As you can imagine, I was saddened to hear the news Sunday that he passed away due to a recurrence of lymphoma.
“It is with a heavy heart and a deep sense of grief that we share the passing of our brother, husband, father, and grandfather who died peacefully in Nashville surrounded by his family,” the statement said.
It continued: "Fred once said that the experiences he had growing up in small-town Tennessee formed the prism through which he viewed the world and shaped the way he dealt with life. Fred stood on principle and common sense, and had a deep love for and connection with the people across Tennessee whom he had the privilege to serve in the United States Senate. He enjoyed a hearty laugh, a strong handshake, a good cigar, and a healthy dose of humility. Fred was the same man on the floor of the Senate, the movie studio, or the town square of Lawrenceburg, his home."
"Fred believed that the greatness of our nation was defined by the hard work, faith, and honesty of its people. He had an enduring belief in the exceptionalism of our country, and that America could provide the opportunity for any boy or girl, in any corner of our country, to succeed in life. "
Thompson, born in 1942, served in the Senate from December 1994 to January 2003.
Following his time in the Senate, Thompson played District Attorney Arthur Branch on Law & Order for five seasons, leaving the show to run for president.
It's obvious he lived a rather interesting life having been an attorney, actor and politician.
Thompson graduated from Memphis State University in 1964 and earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1967. To pay for school, he worked at a bicycle plant, post office and motel.
Thompson went on to become a lawyer in Nashville. In 1969, he became an assistant U.S. attorney, then volunteered in 1972 to work on the re-election campaign of former Republican Sen. Howard Baker. A year later, Baker selected Thompson to be chief minority counsel on the committee investigating the Watergate scandal.
I have to say that perhaps Thompson's most impressive legacy would be how he maintained a folksy demeanor despite having spent time in areas (i.e. politics and Hollywood) where moral vanity rules the day.
He'll be missed.