UPDATE: Fare thee well, old man. Fare thee well. Fred’s out.

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Fox News is reporting that Fred Thompson has opted out of Fox News’ GOP debate on Thursday. From Carl Cameron, reported on 1/21/08:

Fred Thompson sources say the actor and former Tenn senator may withdraw from the race. There are no plans to attend Thursday’s Florida debate. Staffers have been on partial pay since the NH primary. The Senators plans are very fluid. As of 8:45 this evening, there are no plans for any announcement about whether he will stay in the race or not. The team is wrestling with very few options. The Senator is in Nashville visiting his mother (in her 90’s) who has been ill. From THE FIRST DAY Fox News broke the story last March of his candidacy, Thompson has always had a vice presidential bid in mind.

The Washington Post continued the last call drum beat this morning.

Thompson had said repeatedly that he needed a strong finish in South Carolina to stay in the race. He failed, ending up with 16 percent of the vote, behind Sen. John McCain and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, and just a point ahead of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. In an election-night speech to supporters in Columbia, the normally laid-back Thompson thundered for 10 minutes about the less obvious accomplishments of his run for the presidency in what sounded much like a valedictory.

Good Bye Fred. We hardly knew you. Will Fred jump on the McCain band wagon now? Or will he stay neutral, hoping for a VP spot on whatever ticket finally emerges?

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