Add former secretary for Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson to the growing list of likely Republican presidential candidates in ‘08. Like John McCain and Rudy Giuliani before him, Thompson has announced plans to form an exploratory committee, signaling his intention to run.
Thompson would start out months behind potential rivals, such as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), many of whom have staff on the ground in Iowa and are beginning to build campaign organizations. Money will be a big question mark.
Thompson, who will turn 65 on Sunday, spent nearly four decades in politics and government, including 14 years as Wisconsin’s governor. He pushed for an overhaul of Wisconsin welfare laws, well before Congress and President Clinton took up the issue on the national level.
His tenure as HHS secretary was marked by anthrax attacks, a flu vaccine shortage and passage of the Medicare prescription law.
A month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the nation faced its first case of bioterrorism in the form of anthrax attacks against government and media targets in Washington, Florida and New York. Thompson generally escaped criticism, but lawmakers complained that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reacted slowly to the crisis.