050507thompson.jpgEvoking the legacy of Ronald Reagan, potential presidential candidate Fred Thompson told fellow Republicans that smaller government and lower taxes are the way to a prosperous future.

The former Tennessee senator and "Law & Order" star spoke for about 35 minutes Friday night to the Lincoln Club of Orange County, sketching a broad agenda that hewed to Reaganesque themes — a strong military, a limited federal government and robust free markets.

Thompson also warned that people in the United States must be prepared to sacrifice in a world threatened by terrorism and hostile governments.

"Every generation has made sure that it did its part to make sure that it did endure, with the sacrifices they made. And now it’s our turn," Thompson said.

Thompson did not directly mention the 2008 White House race during his remarks, which came a day after the first televised debate among 10 rivals for the party nomination.

Like the leading Republican contenders, Thompson argued against leaving Iraq unless stability is restored. He noted that even when the U.S. leaves Iraq, the world still will be full of danger.

"We’ve inherited a world that is watching the attempted marriage between radical Islamic fundamentalism and nuclear technology," Thompson said.

Recent polls show that many Republicans are uneasy with the emerging field, and Thompson is being watched for signs he might run by "people who do not see Reagan in the current crop of candidates," former state party chairman Duf Sundheim said.

Claremont McKenna College political scientist John Pitney said Thompson’s entry into the race could help energize Republicans — particularly conservatives uneasy with the candidates. Polls have suggested he would be a competitive candidate.

"Two things excite people — passion for an issue and the prospect of winning. Both of those things seem to be absent from the current field," Pitney said.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

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