Fred Dalton Thompson may be an actor (of sorts) but he is not a good enough actor to convince anyone with a functioning brain he still has a shot at the Republican Presidential nomination.

After the one-term former Senator and sometimes actor turned candidate eeked out a third place finish just barely ahead of John McCain in Iowa, Thompson headed home to McLean, Virginia and not directly to New Hampshire like the other candidates.

In an interview with MSNBC Friday, Thompson said he would, for all practical purposes, skip the New Hampshire primary and concentrate on trying to raise needed campaign cash for the South Carolina contest.

Before the Iowa caucus, Thompson aides dropped hints that he would withdraw from the race if he didn’t finish at least second there. Other campaign aides went ballistic and told Thompson he had to stay through at least South Carolina although any political operative with an IQ above that of a broccoli sprout knows his campaign is over.

“Consider it the campaign that never was,” says one GOP strategist. “He never took off because he was a lousy candidate and his chief strategist, Mary Matalin, ran a lousy campaign.”

As a one-term Senator from Tennessee, Thompson’s laid-back “good old boy” style masked a laziness that did not go unnoticed among his Senate colleagues.

“Fred didn’t like to work all that hard,” says a former staffer.

Thompson will travel to New Hampshire for a GOP debate but will return home to work the phones and try and milk contributions from fatcat friends but campaign insiders say the checkbooks are being put away because political contributors know a bad investment when they see one.

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