Captain Ed’s sources tell him Fred did no such thing, that the extent of his involvement with the group would have been some perfunctory gladhanding at his firm’s meet and greets. Read the article, though. Seems pretty detailed.

I’m increasingly troubled by the possibility that the most stalwart pro-life candidate in the race might be John McCain.

Former Tennessee Sen. Fred D. Thompson, who is campaigning for president as a “pro-life” Republican, accepted a lobbying assignment from a family-planning group to persuade the first Bush White House to ease a controversial abortion restriction, according to a 1991 document and five people familiar with the matter…

Judith DeSarno, who was president of the family planning association in 1991, said Thompson lobbied for the group for several months…

Former Rep. Michael Barnes of Maryland, a colleague at the lobbying and law firm where Thompson worked, said DeSarno had asked him to recommend someone for the lobbying work, and that he had suggested that she hire Thompson. He said it was “absolutely bizarre” for Thompson to deny that he lobbied against the abortion counseling rule.

“I talked to him while he was doing it, and I talked to [DeSarno] about the fact that she was very pleased with the work that he was doing for her organization,” said Barnes, a Democrat. “I have strong, total recollection of that. This is not something I dreamed up or she dreamed up. This is fact.”

DeSarno said Thompson reported to her, after being hired, that he had held multiple conversations about the abortion “gag rule” with [John] Sununu, who was then the White House chief of staff and the president’s point man on the abortion rule…

At one of the meals, she recalled, Thompson re-enacted a cowboy death scene from one of his movies. She also remembered him telling her that Sununu had just given him tickets for a VIP tour of the White House for one of Thompson’s sons and his wife.

Both Sununu and Fred’s spokesman, Mark Corallo, deny he did anything for the group, with Corallo insisting that the extent of it would have been informal in-house consultations between Fred and whichever lawyer in the firm was in fact representing them. DeSarno and Barnes sound awfully sure, though. Captain Ed shrugs and points to pro-life voting record — but as we’ve seen, committed pro-life advocates want a true believer, not just someone who raises his hand when he has to. On the other hand, what are they going to do? Vote for Rudy? Exit question: Do I smell RINO?