Video: Fred Thompson's racist TV role

NBC News
updated 5/11/2007 6:11:27 PM ET 2007-05-11T22:11:27

Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson said he has no interest in running on a Republican ticket as vice president. But on the issue of running for the No. 1 spot, Thompson remained coy.

"I have no interest in running for or being the vice president," Thompson told NBC Tampa affiliate WFLA. "I don't think I would ever want to do that and be in the second position."

But Thompson, best known for his television role as District Attorney Arthur Branch on NBC's "Law and Order," offered few clues about whether he might enter the 2008 presidential race.

"I am doing the things necessary to put myself in a position to make a decision on that," he said. "You know when you haven't been running all your life for president it's quite a pivot in your own life and that of your family, and so that looms large."

Thompson has been giving speeches around the country, calling for lower taxes and tighter border security and against pulling troops out of Iraq.

A Newsweek poll finds that only 52 percent of Republicans say they're satisfied with their choices. By contrast, 77 percent of Democrats say they're satisfied with their field. And Thompson is the top choice of those dissatisfied Republicans.

Thompson refused to comment on the current GOP candidates, saying, "I just am not going to talk about the rest of the field. It really has to do with me and my relationship to the American people."

On Saturday night, Thompson continues his speaking tour by giving an address to the ultra conservative Council for National Policy in northern Virginia.

If Thompson does decide to run, he may delay his announcement until mid-summer after the end of the current TV season. That's because NBC says if he becomes a candidate, they won't air any episode he's in.

On May 27, he will be seen playing the role of President Ulysses S. Grant in an upcoming HBO movie, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee."

The FCC's broadcasting fairness doctrine and equal-time rule regulate how broadcasters treat political candidates.

The equal-time provision takes effect at the time a publicly announced candidate engages in a "substantial showing" of candidacy, such as raising money and giving speeches, according to the FCC.

NBC News producer Joel Seidman contributed to this report.

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