Thompson Announces his Candidacy for President

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Fred Thompson has finally made his long-expected jump into the presidential fray.

The veteran actor and former Tennessee senator begins a campaign tour of early primary states this afternoon in Iowa, portraying himself as a common-sense conservative.

Thompson launched his candidacy for the Republican nomination last night, Hollywood style, during a taped appearance on NBC's "Tonight Show."

Thompson also explains his rationale for seeking the presidency in a 15-minute Webcast. He pledges to address what he says are "grave issues affecting the safety and security of the American people and our economic well being."

Thompson's task won't be easy. The testing-the-waters phase of his campaign was marked by lackluster fundraising, staffing shuffles and repeated questions about his lobbying career and thin record in the Senate.