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RUSH: First, Fred Thompson just got some encouraging news. Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told the Brody File, which is a blog at the CBN.com website, the Christian Broadcast Network, ‘My assessment is that at this moment in time it is Fred Thompson’s race to lose. It may be a convergence of the right man at the right place at the right time. I have never seen anything like this grassroots swell for Thompson. I’m not speaking for Southern Baptists, but I do believe I have my hand on the pulse of Southern Baptists here, and I think I know where the consensus is.’ Now, this guy, Dr. Richard Land, does not endorse candidates, but he is a powerful figure in evangelical circles. Why the fascination with Thompson? Land told the Brody File, which is the blog here at the CBN.com, that there are a lot of factors. He believes electability is extremely important, thinks that Thompson may be the best social conservative candidate right now to beat Hillary. He says just look at the head-to-head polling between the two of them, but there’s more. It was Land that came up with the term Southern-fried Reagan when describing Thompson, so he’s all excited.

Erick Erickson at RedState.com has a piece posted at Human Events. ‘Traveling through snowy South Carolina with Fred Thompson, I’m struck by the sense that finally, the man has arrived. The candidate so many conservatives were excited by early in 2007 is finally walking the land. … Though barely mentioned in the national media, Senator Fred Thompson has been on a barn storming tour crisscrossing South Carolina for more than a week. In a unique approach, he is not just going to major media markets, but to rural areas of South Carolina. … The crowds are enthusiastic and relieved. Finally, the Fred Thompson they hoped for is on the campaign trail. ‘Saying the Reagan Coalition is dead is like saying the Constitution is dead,’ Thompson began one speech, taking on Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee. ‘The Reagan Coalition was never about the man.” This sounds awfully familiar. It really does. I can’t help but make that observation. I said that because everybody was accusing those of us citing Reaganism of having a cult of personality, and it had nothing to do with personality, had totally to do with substance. The cult of personality is on the Huckabee/McCain side.

At any rate, let’s go to the audio sound bites here of Fred Thompson. This is in Anderson, South Carolina, last night, at a campaign event. We’ve got two sound bites. Here’s the first.

THOMPSON: Some people think that, you know, our successes of the past have been on transient notions that change with the times and the Reagan coalition may be dead, we gotta be different in order to beat the Democrats, we gotta be more like the Democrats, that we’ve gotta be more so-called progressive or so-called moderate, show empathy, a populist kind of approach and talk about the man keeping us down and, you know, rich versus poor and that sort of thing. But I grew up, parents that had an eighth grade education, but they were always concerned not with how you re-divide the pie in this country, but how you make the pie bigger for everybody. And that’s the way I grew up, and that’s what I believe in.

RUSH: And here came the cheers. We’ve edited the applause out. Here’s the second portion.

THOMPSON: That’s what the Reagan coalition was based on. To say the Reagan coalition is dead is like saying the Constitution is dead. Because our Founding Fathers told us in the Declaration of Independence that our basic rights come not from government but from God. They laid out in our Constitution the notion that too much power in too few hands is a bad idea and that a government big enough and powerful enough to give anything to you is big enough and powerful enough to take anything away from you. Those are fundamental principles and notions on which we built a great nation, a willingness to sacrifice for the freedom and liberty of other people around the world because we knew that it made us freer and made us safer here in our own country. Free people doing free things, and the magic that comes out of that. Basic fundamental principles.

RUSH: Fred Thompson in South Carolina. In the most recent polling I have seen, you’ve got McCain and Huckabee tied, and the only one moving up is Thompson. So, you know, there’s a day left here, and there is apparently some genuine energy for Thompson because he is barnstorming and from what I’ve learned about South Carolina, everybody goes to Iowa and goes everywhere. But in South Carolina, because there’s not much time after Iowa and South Carolina, a lot of people spend much more time in Iowa since it’s first and New Hampshire than they do South Carolina, and as such, they concentrate on the more cosmopolitan areas and the larger cities of South Carolina. Thompson is out there all over the state apparently just on a barnstorming tour, and these recent dispatches of the excitement for him out there, we’ll see if it manifests itself during the vote tomorrow.

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