When Fred Thompson jumped into the presidential race in early September, months after his rivals, he was widely expected to pick up some of the heavy-duty Republican fundraisers in Florida who had been lingering on the sidelines.
It hasn't happened. Half of the leading fundraisers for President George Bush -- anointed ''pioneers'' and ''rangers'' for their groundbreaking success -- have taken sides.
But Fort Lauderdale cardiologist Zachariah Zachariah so far is the only one to back Thompson, hosting a fundraiser for him Tuesday at his home.
Supporters point to his conservative bona fides and Southern charm, but some donors and activists balk at the former Tennessee senator's laid-back manner of speaking and campaigning.
Thompson gave a brief speech that many considered uninspiring at the state party's convention in Orlando on Saturday, leaving some voters who were hoping to be swept off their feet feeling stood up.
Thompson, who stumped around the state for two days after the convention, said he's got to do things his own way.
''It's not my mission in life to prove to anybody how hungry I am,'' he said during an interview in a dark-windowed SUV on his way to the Zachariah fundraiser. ``This is not a pie-eating contest.''
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