Fred Thompson: Testing The Waters And Shaking Them Up

The Associated Press reports this afternoon that Ex-Sen. Fred Thompson has replaced his would-be campaign manager, Thomas J. Collamore, with former Sen. Spence Abraham and political adviser Randy Enwright's . No explanation was provided; Collamore will remain an adviser.

I cannot as of yet advance the story, and I do not know the circumstances behind the change. When Collamore was brought aboard, he was described to me as the "campaign manager in waiting." That suggests that either his desire to slog through a campaign changed or his relationship with the candidate did.

The star in Thompson's orbit is his wife Jeri, a former RNC official who has given no interviews since Thompson began to speculate about a run. Jeri Thompson is his most ardent supporter and Thompson associates credit her with encouraging him to run. Thompson is said to trust her judgment explicitly. Others, particularly some of the newer advisers and allies, are wary. Still, this election cycle features several powerful spouses -- Elizabeth Edwards, Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, Ann Romney -- so some of the criticism can be chalked up to sexism mixed with envy.

Some of Thompson's supporters-in-waiting worry that his delay in entering the race cuts off avenues of support and fuels speculation that reinforces the negative parts of Thompson's reputation. He recently lost a key potential social conservative endorsement to Mitt Romney -- the Judicial Confirmation Network's Wendy Long.

The news today will reinforce doubts about whether Thompson is ready to run a real campaign.

That said, Enwright's is a top notch strategist and campaign hand. So if Thompson is going to proceed with the campaign, having Enwright's at the helm (rather than a tobacco lobbyist -- no offense to Mr. Collamore) is a good thing.