In exchange for a $250 check, the faithful and the curious could enter a private room to meet Thompson, a political insider playing the outsider who might be the nation's next Ronald Reagan or might not even run.
Some walked away from the closed-door fund-raiser on Saturday afternoon convinced.
"He looks presidential," said Jeff Cardwell, 47, a conservative Christian lumber and hardware retailer. "He talks about going back to the basics. Putting God first in our country. I think he's the person everybody looks to as being the true conservative of our party."
But many of the party activists attending the conference from a dozen heartland states said they were seriously turned off by what they saw as Thompson's ambivalence about whether to run months after other presidential hopefuls have been hard at it.
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