Thompson says he in sound position to make presidential run

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - All-but-declared GOP presidential contender Fred Thompson said Saturday that he was in a sound position to make a run for the nomination, even though others in the crowded field had announced their candidacies months ago.

"We have done within a few months what other people have spent much longer periods of time doing," Thompson told reporters before delivering a keynote speech to the Midwest Republican Leadership Conference, which has drawn about 500 party activists from 12 states.

"I don't feel compelled to raise $100 million this year, which is what they said was openers to run for president," he said.

"I was going into the year and hadn't raised any money and was in the middle of the pack, so I've already saved $50 million the way I look at it." Thompson, a former Tennessee senator and an actor known for his role as a hard-nosed, straight-talking district attorney on NBC's "Law & Order," was the third and final GOP hopeful to speak at the conference.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee spoke Friday. The conference is billed as a springboard for Republican presidential candidates in the vote-rich Midwest.

Iowa, Illinois and Michigan have caucuses or primaries by Feb. 5, and Ohio is a traditional swing state in general elections.

Combined, the 12 states in the conference - which includes Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin - have 124 electoral votes out of 270 needed to become president.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)