While in the Senate, Thompson developed a reputation as an independent Senator who never put a hefty premium on relationship-building. Several veteran Republican sources said last week that Thompson was more of a loner, sometimes seen as unapproachable and someone who never reveled in the chumminess of the chamber.
That reputation comes on top of larger questions over whether Thompson has the necessary drive to be the next president — a feeling some Republicans said could be reflected in the number of Congressional signers-on.
“His late arrival and long consideration period came across [to Senators] as being very indecisive and unenthusiastic,” said one prominent Republican lobbyist.
But just as the Johnny-come-lately play worked for Thompson in his previous political career, his Capitol Hill supporters say it will prove a successful move in the 2008 presidential race.
“We have six weeks to go,” Alexander said. “I thought it was wise. The contest is way too long and the voters will be worn out with the [other] candidates before it’s over.