The director of Kansas University's Dole Institute of Politics has a history with one of the more intriguing potential candidates in the 2008 presidential field.
Long before Fred Thompson was a political heavyweight viewed as a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, he was an attorney and actor trying to win an open U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee in 1994. Bill Lacy, who is now director of the Dole Institute, served as Thompson's campaign manager and strategist during that race.
"This guy is the real deal. He's talented. He's got very good instincts," Lacy said.
Against Lacy's advice, Thompson bought a pickup truck midway through the campaign, started dressing down, and began going out to meet people in casual settings - a move that Lacy said was the turning point and led to Thompson winning in a landslide against Democrat Jim Cooper.
Thompson hasn't officially entered the 2008 race but has begun raising money and assembling a campaign team. Lacy said he would not consider leaving the Dole Institute to work on Thompson's campaign but might take a minor volunteer role if asked.
So far, Thompson has given signs that he will run an unorthodox campaign that makes the most of the Internet. Last month, he filmed and posted online a much-discussed slap against political filmmaker Michael Moore.
"People are going to pick at some of the tactics he's going to use in this campaign," Lacy said. "People are already saying in some of the blogs that Fred doesn't seem to want to go and travel very much. I would encourage all of his opponents to go back to that 1994 campaign and belittle his tactics at their own peril. Jimmy Cooper got his head handed to him in 1994."