Image: Thompson on Meet The Press
Alex Wong / Meet the Press
Former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) gestures as he speaks during a taping of NBC's 'Meet the Press'.
By Producer
NBC News
updated 4/12/2007 9:42:04 PM ET 2007-04-13T01:42:04

After disclosing Wednesday that he has lymphatic cancer, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, perhaps best known for his TV role as District Attorney Arthur Branch on NBC's "Law and Order," is accelerating his schedule of public appearances. Advisors say this reflects his growing seriousness about entering the race for the White House.

On Friday morning Thompson is scheduled to attend the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington. He will be there with his wife Jeri at the Washington Hilton's ballroom event. President Bush will be there to make remarks.

A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll released Wednesday indicates Thompson, who has yet to announce his candidacy, has risen to #2, ahead of Arizona Senator John McCain.

Among republicans polled, 29 percent prefer former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, 15 percent favor Thompson, while only 12 percent prefer McCain, who once led the pack.

Next Wednesday some 40-50 GOP House members will meet privately with Thompson at the Capitol Hill Club to urge him to enter the race.

The Hill event is being designed by Tennessee republican Rep. Zack Wamp. Wamp tells NBC, in a telephone interview, that Thompson, "appears to be someone who may be running for president." Wamp adds that the media will have an opportunity to cover some of the get together.

Wamp adds that the media will have an opportunity to cover some of the get-together.

Wamp says Thompson is "not a hard-core conservative, not a bomb thrower, not an ideologue" but someone who can appeal to the majority of Republican voters.

The Tennessee congressman, who says he has known Thompson for years, also said that Thompson's disclosure of his cancer was "a clear signal that he is testing the waters and moving forward" with his thinking on running.

The Tennessee congressman, who says he has known Thompson for years, also said that Thompson's disclosure of his cancer was "a clear signal that he is testing the waters and moving forward" with his thinking on running.

Thompson heads to the O.C.
On May 4th, Thompson heads to Los Angeles where he is slated to address the influential Orange County Lincoln Club. The club is one of the biggest GOP organizations in the nation and says it is, "The largest and most active political club in the United States."

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Video: Fred Thompson announces cancer diagnosis The organization states on its online web page, "Members of The Lincoln Club are committed to freeing business from strangulation by taxation and regulation, not just for philosophical reasons but because of our experience in building businesses. We know that a free marketplace unfettered by onerous taxes and red tape is the greatest engine of opportunity the world has ever known. We want all Americans to enjoy the success our members do."

Mark Corallo, who is Thompson's unpaid spokesman, tells NBC that Thompson is indeed, "moving forward on his considering entering the presidential race."

Corallo, who is part of a very small nucleus of Thompson advisors – there are only 4-5 people in the inner circle – says the schedule of events are "indications that Fred is taking this very seriously."

"I think Fred Thompson has every intention of taking the decision seriously and giving it some weight as he looks at the perilous times that America now faces."

And despite speculation that Thompson would appear on NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" when he is in California in May, Corallo said the Tonight Show is “Not booked, not firm."

Joel Seidman is an NBC Producer, based in Washington, D.C.

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