NAPLES, Fla. – Republican Fred Thompson, the actor-politician who attracted more attention as a potential presidential candidate than as a real one, quit the race for the White House yesterday after a string of poor finishes in early primary and caucus states.
“Today, I have withdrawn my candidacy for president of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort,” the former Tennessee senator said in a brief statement.
Thompson’s fate was sealed last Saturday in the South Carolina primary, when he finished third in a state he had said he needed to do well in, if not win.
In the statement, Thompson did not say whether he would endorse any of his former rivals. He was one of a handful of members of Congress who supported Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2000 in his unsuccessful race against George W. Bush for the party nomination.
Thompson, best known as the gruff district attorney on NBC’s “Law & Order,” placed third in Iowa and South Carolina, two states seemingly in line with his right-leaning pitch and laid-back style, and fared even worse in the four other states that have held contests thus far. Money already tight, he ran out of it altogether as the losses piled up.
Thompson, 65, exits the most wide open Republican race in half a century; three candidates each having won in the six states that have voted.