Thompson uses the Web to claim spot as Republican standard-bearer

Unannounced Republican presidential candidate Fred D. Thompson is using the Web to make sure hard-core Republicans know just where he stands on the issues, the Washington Post reports.

Unannounced Republican presidential candidate Fred D. Thompson is using the Web to make sure hard-core Republicans know just where he stands on the issues, the Washington Post reports.

Among his messages: The Virginia Tech massacre showed that students should be allowed to carry guns to protect themselves; global warming scientists are the moral equivalent of the Flat Earth Society; and so on.

"They were wildly popular," said Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, where three dozen commentaries by Thompson have been posted since he started testing the presidential waters in March. "It was a great way to introduce himself. He had just the right balance of red meat and substance to feed a conservative audience -- at least as an opener."

While the Web is working out great to reach the core, the strategy could backfire when the writings are still available online during the general election.

"Today, everything is out there forever, and you don't have any luxury of claiming there was a misunderstanding," said Ed Rollins, a veteran Republican strategist. "If a campaign is putting some of these comments out there, they are going to have to live with them for the rest of the campaign."

Aides said Thompson originally was repurposing his radio commentaries, but now they have taken on a life of their own and given him a forum he can't get on traditional media. And Thompson is showing a devil-may-care attitude about poisoning his chances in the general.

"Most of the other candidates -- other than an issue here or there -- are trying to conceal their viewpoints in which they think they will offend some portion of the electorate," conservative talk radio host Mark Levin said. "Thompson comes out, and he is unafraid of articulating his viewpoints. He's not trying to camouflage them."

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