For the longest time it seemed far too early to pick a horse to back in this race. Then, before you know it, it’s too late for some.

I’ve become a big fan of Fred Thompson‘s no-nonsense style, Federalist platform, recognition of the real threat posed by Jihadist terrorism, and determination to see the Iraq war through to a viable conclusion, so I was very disappointed this week to read the news that he’s withdrawn from the 2008 presidential race. Glenn Reynolds had a roundup of reactions, and Pajamas Media has a campaign retrospective from Fred’s first hire, Patrick Cox.

I feel pretty much as Eric Scheie does — disappointed and uncertain who I’ll back next. Despite misgivings about his nanny-stater tendencies as exemplified by McCain-Feingold, McCain has been a pretty strong second in my book. His RNC speech was a defining moment of the 2004 election for me, and he’d have had my vote for President in a heartbeat if only he had won his party’s nomination. But, time will tell… Right now I’m still gloomy over the loss of Fred…

Update: Rick Moran writes:

Fred Thompson was not the most exciting candidate and certainly not the best campaigner. It was his philosophy and ideas that captured me and earned my loyalty and support. It is very difficult to simply transfer your allegiance to someone who might represent only a pale echo of your candidate’s qualities.