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Thompson fundraiser draws crowd, including Troy King

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Potential presidential candidate Fred Thompson drew some of the state's top Republicans to his first Alabama fundraiser, including the state chairman of John McCain's campaign.

State Attorney General Troy King, McCain's state chairman, attended the private fundraising reception Monday evening at the Mountain Brook home of construction company executive Jim Cooper.

Others in attendance included Secretary of State Beth Chapman, state Senate Minority Leader Jabo Waggoner, and state Rep. Jay Love.

King said he was invited to attend the $1,000-per-couple reception for free and he went because Thompson was born in Sheffield.

"As one of the top Republicans in the state, I wanted to welcome him back home," King said Tuesday.

The attorney general said he had followed Thompson's career as a U.S. senator for Tennessee and as an actor of the "Law and Order" TV show. But he said he has no plans to switch candidates.

"I committed to Senator McCain. I gave him my word and I'm from a place where your word means something," King said in an interview.

Chapman said she also went as a nonpaying invited guest and is not getting involved in any presidential campaign because of her role in overseeing the state's presidential primary on Feb. 5.

But she said people seemed to enjoy meeting Thompson in the casual setting.

"He was very down to earth. He could have been Fred Thompson from Greenville, Alabama, or Fred Thompson from Arab, Alabama," she said.

Chapman, who worked in lots of campaigns before winning the office of state auditor and then secretary of state, said she was impressed that about 150 people would attend the event that was quickly organized with little notice.

"That says people are still looking for their candidate," she said.

Love, a member of the House Government Appropriations Committee, was among those paying $1,000 per couple. The Montgomery Republican said he plans to endorse Thompson if he enters the race. In Love's view, the leading GOP candidates each have a position on some major issue that he considers a "deal breaker."

Love predicted Thompson would not be at a disadvantage by getting in the race months after other candidates.

"Most people are still waiting and haven't pledged their support to one side or another," the state representative said.

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

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