It feels weird saying he’s late to the game with the election 19 months away, but he is. Politico explains why:

Thompson faces numerous obstacles, notably a lack of groundwork in early-voting states where his competitors have been campaigning for years. He also would be way behind in the brutal contest to sign up key donors, and many analysts see his entry as improbable. About the only factor that makes his candidacy plausible at this late date would be his celebrity and the deep dismay that conservatives feel about the current field.

Howard Baker, the former Senate majority leader, is working the phones for him, but if he wants to make up some ground here he’ll need lots of grassroots support. Which is another way of saying that if you guys want Fred, you had better start pounding the table. Hard.

Two clips for you here, both of which show off why, in the words of one GOP strategist, he’s “the biggest daddy bear around.” First up is his take on Libby. He’s on the advisory committee of Libby’s defense fund so I guess he has to say he’d pardon him, but I think it’s a mistake — the GOP has had enough scandals lately, and enough counterterrorism measures of dubious legality taken by Bush, that they shouldn’t be talking about handing out get-out-of-jail-free cards to their own guys. Then again, Thompson doesn’t have to worry about the general public’s perception right now; he’s trying to woo Republican primary voters, and red meat like this is tasty bait.

The second clip is Fred on the issues. Abortion, gay marriage, gun control, McCain-Feingold, and of course “comprehensive immigration reform” — it’s all here. I don’t get his point about “special” rights for gays although I do like his federalist approach to the issue. The rest of it is all golden. I leave you with the words of Romney supporter Dean Barnett, who wants Thompson in the race notwithstanding his support for his man Mitt: “When candidates back into the nomination because they’re the favorite or because the field is weak, you get unappealing or unqualified nominees. (Insert your own bipartisan list here – I’ll start things rolling by mentioning Dole, Dukakis and Clinton.) For the good of the country, I hope Thompson uses his appearance on Fox News Sunday tomorrow to announce he’s in it to win it.” Not yet, but soon enough.

Update: Meanwhile, Hillary’s trying to replace her husband as the official Democrat Who’s Most Like JFK. I hate to be the one to tell her but the position has already been filled.