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With Thompson out, Tom McClintock leans to Ron Paul

January 25, 2008 |  7:03 am

With Fred Thompson out of the presidential race, who's a self-respecting conservative to go for? Could it be, maybe, perhaps, a certain Republican-libertarian from Texas?

That's one question perplexing California state Sen. Tom McClintock, possibly the second-most-famous California Republican currently in office after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

McClintock created a stir two months when he endorsed Thompson’s presidential candidacy. Having run for governor, lieutenant governor and state controller, McClintock has shown that while he has not won a statewide contest, he can win GOP primaries, which conservatives tend to dominate. So heading into the Feb. 5 primary, McClintock’s endorsement is seen as important in California.

Now McClintock is mulling his choices. And it comes down to the basics: "Who will respect our Constitution, defend our borders, and reduce the burdens of government on our people?" McClintock said Thursday in Sacramento as the Senate wrapped up its week. "If I were to vote today, I probably would be casting a vote for Ron Paul. I’m not voting today."

Why Paul?

"I do believe he will respect our Constitu-" McClintock said, then stopped midthought. "I don’t want to go too far. I am still looking."

Why not former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney? "I want somebody with a consistent record," McClintock said. "I want someone who didn’t have to go through a political epiphany the day before he announced his candidacy."

-- Dan Morain