Thompson announces candidacy on Leno

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Fred Thompson — veteran actor, former Republican senator — launched his bid for the presidency Hollywood style. “I’m running for president of the United States,” Thompson told Jay Leno in a taped appearance on NBC’s “Tonight Show” airing tonight.

Thompson also is calling attention to his candidacy with a 30-second ad being broadcast during a Republican debate in New Hampshire that he is not participating in, and he will explain the rationale for his candidacy during a 15-minute Webcast on his Web site just after midnight.

“On the next president’s watch, our country will make decisions that will affect our lives and our families far into the future. We can’t allow ourselves to become a weaker, less prosperous and more divided nation,” Thompson says in the ad that will air on Fox News.

Thompson, 65, enters a crowded Republican field and an extraordinarily fluid race four months before the first votes. While Rudy Giuliani leads in national polls, Mitt Romney maintains an edge in the early primary voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Overall, Republican voters have expressed less satisfaction with their choices than Democrats, which Thompson sees as an opening for his candidacy.

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