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MONDAY, APRIL 2, 2007
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Tommy Thompson running in 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson on Sunday joined the crowded field of Republicans running for the White House in 2008 and proclaimed himself the “reliable conservative” in the race.

Thompson, who was health and human services secretary during President Bush’s first term, also said he is the only GOP candidate who has helped assemble both a state and federal budget.

Since announcing last year he was forming a presidential exploratory committee to raise money and gauge support, Thompson has lagged behind better-known rivals.

Thompson, 65, has focused his strategy on Iowa, which holds the nation’s first caucuses for presidential nominees. He has made weekly visits to the state and sought to make the case that it will take a candidate who can carry the Midwest to win the nomination.

“Things are starting to coalesce and I feel very, very optimistic about my future,” Thompson said Sunday, despite his single-digit polling.

“I am the reliable conservative. My record shows that. All that people have to do is look at my record, and I am one individual that they can count on,” Thompson said.

At a recent news conference in Wisconsin, Thompson called himself “the dark horse candidate. I was a dark horse candidate for governor. I was a dark horse candidate when I ran for the Assembly. I am the underdog, and I don’t mind that.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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