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Better Off Just Fred?

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

A little late today, as I was on an assignment this morning…

Not too long ago, there were rumors that Fred Thompson was delaying his official entry into the presidential race to maximize his return from “Law & Order” reruns, some of which would have to be pulled if he officially gets into the race because of equal time laws. Thompson denied this, and it is a bit of a leap, but Washington strategists are still puzzled at why it has taken him so long to enter the race. And on Monday, his delay earned him a legal challenge.

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According to ABC News, a liberal activist filed a complaint with federal election officials, charging that Thompson’s “testing the waters” committee actually is a presidential committee. It’s a nuance in election laws that allows contenders to “test the waters” for a run, allowing them to avoid some disclosure rules, even though most people would have a hard time noticing the difference. Thompson was in Iowa over the weekend (above), has opened a headquarters, launched a website and is hiring staff. He’s been “testing the waters” long enough for a few staffers to quit, too. The word now is that Thompson is looking to after Labor Day to formally declare.

Rove’s Run: In a rare round of the Sunday morning talk shows before he exits the White House, Karl Rove defended his record, got in a few more shots at Hillary Clinton and said this about his rap appearance before a Washington correspondents’ dinner. From the New York Times: “They dragged me up there,” he told Chris Wallace on Fox News. “I was uncomfortable, and I said, ‘I’ve got a choice. I can be irritated and everybody will see it, or I can play along and try and show them I’m a good sport.’ ” He noted that his black-tie rap routine, shown over and over on television and the Internet, was his “most humiliating moment in Washington, bar none.”

Doc Spot: Thor Halvorssen looks about old enough to be cast in “High School Musical,” but the half-Norweigian Venezuelan gets profiled in the New York Times as the producer of some against-the-tide documentaries. The latest is “Indoctrinate U,” which challenges political correctness on campus via Michael Moore’s guerilla tactics. Halvorssen’s Moving Picture Institute also has helped finance “Mine Your Own Business,” billed as the world’s first anti-environmentalist documentary. Halvorssen, however, doesn’t fit into any easily definable category of partisanship. “Pop culture has the power to be transformational culture,” he said. “A film can reach a lot more people than a white paper. You could think of the film as a trailer for the white paper.” He paused, then said, “Put it this way: What ‘Sideways’ did for pinot noir, I want to do for freedom.”

New Biden Ad: Joseph Biden debuted his first spot to run in Iowa, this one focusing (not too suprisingly) on Iraq and that he is “the only candidate with a plan to get us out of Iraq and keep us out.”

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