Thompson's Audition For The Nomination

LAW & ORDER -- NBC Series -- Pictured: (l-r) Jessie Martin as Det. Ed Green, S. Epatha Merkerson as Lt. Anita Van Buren, Dennis Farina as Joe Fontana, Sam Waterston as Asst. D.A. Jack McCoy, Fred Thompson as D.A. Arthur Branch, Elisabeth Rohm as Asst. D.A. Serena Southerlyn -- NBC Photo: Paul Drinkwater
NBC Photo/Paul Drinkwater
This column was written by The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

Fred Thompson, are you ready for your close up?

By most accounts the former senator from Tennessee hasn't exactly wowed any audiences since he officially became a candidate for the Republican nomination for president. So today's the big day: his first debate with the other candidates.

I went on IMDB to check out Thompson's career in film and TV just to see if that might lend some clues to how he'll perform.

Thompson of course has starred for several years on "Law & Order." He's pretty perfect in his role District Attorney Arthur Branch; 116 episodes worth, which means if you turn on a TV anywhere in the world, within about 10 minutes, he'll pop up someplace. He was in "Die Hard 2" and "Days of Thunder." He even appeared in an episode of "Sex and The City."

You'd think all that acting would be pretty good preparation for what he's doing now. But when you're on a TV or movie set, you don't have to schmooze much and somebody else tells you what to say.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.