Such is the state of his non-campaign that this actually qualifies as news, never mind the fact that Hillary’s already blazed this trail:

Fred Thompson’s decision to announce his presidential candidacy with a video was suggested by Newt Gingrich, who is also considered a possible contender.

Former House Speaker Gingrich has indicated he will run only if Thompson does not, or his late-starting campaign crashes and burns. Actor-politician Thompson plans to follow the model of Democrat Hillary Clinton by launching his campaign with a video, followed by a fly-around to several cities.

Chris Wallace told Kilmeade and Napolitano yesterday that Fox was told to expect Fred at the September 5th debate they’re sponsoring, which is right around the time it’s been rumored he’ll declare. Figure his campaign will post the video announcement early on the 4th followed by the obligatory old-folks-at-home public announcement in Lawrenceburg that afternoon, and then on to the debate. Huckabee put it well this morning on Wallace’s show: “People are expecting him to basically come in and be the fifth head on Mount Rushmore.” Ari Fleischer expressed the same sentiment yesterday, albeit less elegantly. If he disappoints at the debate, he’ll be on thin ice fully one day into his campaign. Huck and Romney will probably go right after him to try to take him out early and keep the field clear for a social-con death struggle between them down the road. I wonder what Rudy’ll do.

The video’s smart thinking for a guy who’s already vowed to make his campaign Net-centric: he needs to get people in the habit of checking his site and a video splash on announcement day is a shrewd way to do it. More intriguing is the fact that the idea comes from Newt — the second time in a month we’ve had a report of a Thompson/Gingrich connection. If Fred does win, Newt’s going to turn up somewhere in his administration. Reason enough to give him serious consideration.

Update: Our best chance next year is a lesser-of-two-evils pitch and grassroots Republicans know it. Which is why they’re pining for big evil on the other side.

Asked if Clinton being the nominee would improve his party’s chances both nationally and in Indiana, Howard County (Ind.) GOP Chair Craig Dunn got excited. “Absolutely, absolutely!” he exclaimed animatedly, grinning widely. “We’ve never elected a president of the United States who started off with 45 percent unfavorable ratings!”…

[W]hen Duncan wrapped up his treatment of the Democratic presidential hopefuls, it was only Clinton that he admonished for being “one of only 22 senators to vote against [Supreme Court Chief Justice] John Roberts” and trying “to block” Samuel Alito’s Supreme Court nomination. And only she, as Duncan told it, “blasted the Supreme Court decision on partial-birth abortion.”

“It’s amazing,” Duncan concluded, “Hillary and her Democratic competitors have made their position clear — they’re running for MoveOn[.org] and not for America.”…

Back in the conference room, it was much the same message. “As Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee,” projected GOP pollster B.J. Martino of the Tarrance Group, pointing to charts and graphs, “Republican intensity will simultaneously spike.”