I'm a Tennessean and remember presidential candidate Fred Thompson's years as my US Senator. I remember him as being a relative moderate non-"crazy" on a variety of issue. This is really in the long tradition of the Tennessee Republican Party and have included moderates like Howard Baker (Thompson's mentor) and Lamar Alexander. 

I also remember Thompson being a realist on immigration matters as opposed to a zealot and willing to try and work for sensible solutions to both legal and illegal immigration problems.

When Thompson's name started getting tossed around as a Presidential candidate, he was immediately touted as the darling of the conservative wing of the GOP. And this really puzzled me because that's not how I remembered Thompson as well, particularly when it came to immigration issues.

Thompson seems to be more than happy to accept the label of right winger including being far to the edge on immigration issues. He's just weighed in on Hazleton and has taken a tough line on any sort of "amnesty".

But I remember a more reasonable, consensus-minded Fred Thompson. For those who have worked on immigration issues for many years, you may remember the "split the bill" campaign in 1996 that involved taking out the most onerous anti-immigration provisions from the 1996 immigration act and also removing the legal immigration provisions (including a moratorium on legal immigration) from the bill. Thompson was on the Judiciary Committee at the time and cast the critical pro-immigration vote in favor of splitting the bill. A lot of people in the pro-immigration community breathed a big sigh of relief thanks to Senator Thompson.

Apparently, others are worried about Thompson's anti-immigration street cred as well. Check out this posting today from FAIR's Dan Stein. Stein is railing against Thompson for choosing former Michigan Senator Spencer Abraham, a Republican and Energy Secretary in George W. Bush's first term, to be a co-manager of his national campaign for President. It is true that Senator Abraham was pro-immigration and I don't think he would make any bones about that. And it is true that Thompson has a pro-immigration record. He voted pro-immigration on various bills like increasing H-1B numbers and visas available to farm workers.

Maybe Senator Thompson has undergone a transformation. Or maybe he is simply choosing to emphasize aspects of his immigration positions that seem the toughest. In any case, I think it's fair to say that Thompson is no Tom Tancredo. And if FAIR hates Thompson, then I think that probably is an indicator that he's not so extreme on the immigration issue after all. Which is what I believed before all of this presidential campaign business began.