- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Former Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican, yesterday revealed he has a form of cancer.

Mr. Thompson, who has excited many Republicans by suggesting he may seek the party’s 2008 presidential nomination, said that although he has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, “I have had no illness from it, or even any symptoms.”

“My life expectancy should not be affected,” the politician-actor, 64, said in a statement. “I am in remission, and it is very treatable with drugs if treatment is needed in the future — and with no debilitating side effects.”

Mr. Thompson, who plays a prosecutor on the popular NBC television series “Law & Order,” said he was diagnosed more than two years ago “with what the doctors call an indolent lymphoma. Of the 30-plus kinds of lymphoma this is a ‘good’ kind, if there is such a thing.”

The cancer was revealed exactly a month after Mr. Thompson told Chris Wallace in a March 11 interview on Fox News that he would consider running for the Republican nomination and make a decision after assessing what the other candidates are saying and how they conduct themselves.

“I’m giving some thought to it,” Mr. Thompson said when Mr. Wallace asked whether he was considering a run. “Going to leave the door open.”

By the time a Gallup Poll was released on March 28, Mr. Thompson’s support had shot from nowhere to 12 percent among prospective Republican primary voters, putting him in the first tier of Republican hopefuls.

Republican policy adviser Brett A. Sciotto said yesterday that Mr. Thompson was wise to disclose his illness.

“By talking about the lymphoma before formally announcing, Thompson can measure the impact it will have on the electorate, test messages to explain it and avoid taking an electoral hit on it after officially entering the race,” Mr. Sciotto told The Washington Times.

Cancer has affected other presidential candidates without changing their popularity with voters.

“Cancer is a disease that has touched almost every American family at some point,” Kirsten Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, told The Times. “For that reason, it’s newsworthy. However, cancer isn’t a reason to vote for or against a candidate. Ideas and policies win elections; personal stories like a battle with cancer simply give those ideas and policies context.”

Two top contenders for the Republican presidential nomination have had brushes with cancer. In 2000, New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani underwent treatment for prostate cancer, causing him to drop out of his Senate campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In August 2000, after losing his Republican nomination bid to George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain of Arizona underwent 5 hours of surgery for malignant melanomas. Earlier this month, the McCain campaign denied rumors of a recurrence of the senator’s skin cancer.

The Democratic presidential race was affected by cancer last month when Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, announced that her breast cancer, first diagnosed in November 2004, had recurred and spread. She and her husband, who was the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential candidate, said that Mr. Edwards’ campaign for the 2008 presidential nomination would continue.

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