By: Andy Sher, TimesFreePress.com
January 26, 2008

NASHVILLE — Republican Fred Thompson is out of the presidential race, but that isn’t stopping some top Republican officials from continuing to support the former U.S. senator in the Feb. 5 GOP primary.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, is running as an at-large delegate for Mr. Thompson. Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, is running as a Thompson delegate in the 7th Congressional District.

And both are hoping to get to the Republican National Convention this summer as delegates.

During a press availability with reporters this week, Lt. Gov. Ramsey told reporters he has been getting calls from various GOP campaigns seeking his support since Mr. Thompson’s flagging campaign officially fizzled.

“Obviously, Chip Saltsman, who’s with Mike Huckabee, called about 30 minutes after Fred was out, and I asked him what took so long,” Lt. Gov. Ramsey joked of Mr. Saltsman, a former Tennessee Republican Party chairman who is Mr. Huckabee’s campaign manager.

“Yesterday,” Lt. Gov. Ramsey continued, “I got a phone call that came up, unknown number, blocked caller ID. And usually I don’t answer that because it’s usually one of you all (reporters), to be perfectly honest. … But I answered anyway, and (the voice) said, ‘Hello, this is Mitt Romney.’”

The lieutenant governor said, “I’m going to try to stay out of it at least for right now. I’ll be behind whoever wins.”

Sen. Norris then noted, “I’m a delegate for Fred Thompson, and I’m still on the ballot.”

Asked if he were encouraging people to still vote for Mr. Thompson, Sen. Norris grinned and said, “you bet. I’m a delegate.”

Then came a confession from Lt. Gov. Ramsey: “And I am (a delegate) too. So I will too. I’m a statewide delegate. I’m sure I still will. Even though he’s out, I will, at this time.”

Mr. Thompson remains on the ballot and can still win delegates if he wins a certain percentage of the vote.

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