Mr. Thompson is pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gay marriage, and anti-tax — like Mr. Romney. But he has one advantage over the former governor: He didn't just come to these positions over the last year or so, in a "Road to Des Moines" conversion.
On virtually every issue, Mr. Thompson is as far right, or further, than Mr. Romney, and he has been for some time. Mr. Romney's claim to fame so far in the campaign has been that he's the "true conservative" in the race — in contrast to Mayor Giuliani and Senator McCain. If Mr. Thompson jumps in, however, the rationale behind Mr. Romney's candidacy drops out.
"Romney would want [Mr. Thompson] in the race the least," the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, Peter Brown, told me yesterday. According to Mr. Brown, Mr. Thompson "potentially has the profile that no other candidate in the race has yet demonstrated, to appeal to the mainstream conservative."
The Thompson boom is the GOP's version of the Obama boomlet—a surge of support for a candidate whose record his supporters couldn't care less about, but who looks and sounds so much more appealing than the candidates they've gotten so far. In a GOP field that includes Tommy Thompson and Ron Paul, this seems awfully immature… but it's happening.
Sager's Reason corpus is collected here.