Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson was endorsed by the conservative Methodist group, the Wesleyan center for Strategic Studies, Friday during the former senator's second visit to Mississippi in less than a month.
Thompson says he's the same person whether he's in the deep south or out west. His "tell it like it is" demeanor showed itself at the most recent GOP debate.
But it's that same resolve the Wesleyan Center founders say is the reason it chose to endorse him.
"He is just not Fred '08, he is Fred every day," said the Rev. Phillip Knight of the Wesleyan Center.
The Wesleyan Center represents over 10 million Methodists nationwide. Thompson said the endorsement puts the wind at his back.
But while an endorsement from a conservative religious group might put him in good standing with many Mississippians, what does it do for Thompson's image nationwide as he prepares for the caucuses early next year?"
Thompson sees it this way.
"We're not mixing politics and religion," said Thompson. "Politics does not mean you can't have the support of strong religious leaders. I think it's just the opposite."
Thompson told a group of about fifty supporters he plans to stay tough against terrorism, tighten the borders and control spending in Washington. Since not seeking re-election in 2002, Thompson appeared in the TV show "Law and Order" for the last five years. But he says he felt the need to return to public service.
"I wasn't at my highest and best use reading somebody else's script and I hope America is better for it," Thompson said.
And you can bet he'll return to Mississippi sometime soon.
"We were just talking about the fact. I left a restaurant that did not have catfish. I did not see one catfish in the place and I was sorely disappointed, and the next time I come I'm going to rectify that mistake," said Thompson.
Most recent polls show Thompson running third, as the Iowa primary nears in early January.
The Mississippi primary for both Republicans and Democrats is Mar. 11, 2008.