Is Fred Thompson the G.O.P.'s Savior?

His party is in a funk, and there's no clear front-runner for the nomination. Can the actor-politician meet great expectations?

David Yellen for TIME

Fred Dalton Thompson, an American lawyer, lobbyist, character actor and former Republican Senator from Tennessee , still contemplating a run for the white house. McLean, Virginia 2007

For those not paying close attention, and others simply in denial, it is worth taking a moment to review just how bleak life has become for members of the Grand Old Party. Last fall Republicans were swept from power in both houses of Congress. This summer the incumbent Republican President is setting standards for unpopularity not seen since the Nixon Watergate era. In recent weeks the campaign of the war-hero Senator who was once the party's presumptive nominee has all but collapsed in debt and blame. The latest financial reports show that the G.O.P.'s always reliable money advantage has vaporized,...

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