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Republican Thompson to Meet with Thatcher

Monday, 18 June 2007 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- Republican Fred Thompson, an actor and former U.S. senator who has taken an early step toward a 2008 presidential bid, will deliver a foreign policy speech in London and meet with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher this week.

Thompson speaks on Tuesday to the Policy Exchange, a think tank in London, and meets privately with Thatcher on Wednesday. Aides hope the long-planned trip will boost his diplomatic credentials and reinforce his conservative support.

"It gives him a chance to flex his statesman muscles," a Thompson adviser said.

"It also gives the American people a chance to see him in a different setting, removed from the 'small p' of politics and engaging the special relationship that exists between the U.S. and the U.K.," the adviser said.

Thompson formed a committee in his home state of Tennessee earlier this month to explore a presidential bid and is expected to formally enter the White House race in July.

His expected candidacy has been fueled in part by conservative dissatisfaction with the 10 candidates vying to win the Republican nomination for the November 2008 election to succeed President George W. Bush.

Thompson, billed as a conservative in the mold of former President Ronald Reagan, will meet with one of Reagan's staunchest allies in Thatcher. She stood firm with Reagan and his policies of Soviet deterrence throughout the 1980s.

Thompson, who has little foreign policy experience on a resume that includes acting in movies and television and eight years as a senator, will emphasize the special bond between the two countries, the adviser said.

Thompson, who plays a district attorney on the U.S. television show "Law and Order," has been steadily rising in national and state opinion polls even before he officially gets in the presidential race.

Thompson zoomed to the top of the Republican pack over former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in a new poll in the early voting state of South Carolina.

A national USA Today/Gallup poll put Thompson second, behind Giuliani but ahead of Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Thompson will make his first visit to key early voting states next week when he makes speeches in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

© reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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WASHINGTON -- Republican Fred Thompson, an actor and former U.S. senator who has taken an early step toward a 2008 presidential bid, will deliver a foreign policy speech in London and meet with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher this week. Thompson speaks...
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2007-00-18
Monday, 18 June 2007 12:00 AM
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