Fred Thompson, who momentarily gave up a TV career to run for president in the last cycle, didn't sound surprised that Donald Trump didn't enter the presidential race.
He does think that Trump gained from the experience of being a prospective candidate.
"I think in his case he is in a more solid position than ever for his show, he got publicity from the campaign, and he probably got a better deal with NBC," Thompson said in an interview with Variety. "I think he played it beautifully."
Thompson cautioned that , "It is presumptuous to try to read another person's mind, but I guess when you are in public life, it is something that can't be avoided." Nevertheless, "I never thought there was much of a chance that he would actually do it. It would not make sense for him politically, or from a business sense, to actually run. He has got a hit television show. I am sure he is like most people not in public office who prefer not to open up their finances to the general public."
He cited not only Trump's TV show, but the extensive financial disclosure that he would have to undertake when he officially got in the race.
And he said that Trump would have to be prepared for being treated differently by the media once he was an official candidate.
"I think with anybody there is a difference once you are in the race," Thompson said. "The media likes to build them up and the media likes to take them down."
Thompson said that he does not yet have a preference for a candidate in 2012, noting that the field is not yet complete.
"I don't think it was an agonizing decision for him to make," Thompson said. "Somewhere along the line, he probably thought seriously about the 'what if?,' maybe for about five minutes."
In contrast to Trump, Thompson said that when he decided to run, he had to give up a primary source of income, appearing on NBC's "Law & Order" franchise, which was no small thing as he was raising young children. He already had extensive experience in the scrutiny of public office, having served as a senator from Tennessee.
"There is the main thing that of course you are giving up your TV show, that is the long and the short of it...The other big [issue], which was not a big issue for me, is the financial disclosure, and that is pretty extensive," Thompson said.
Thompson has returned to acting since his presidential run, appearing on shows like "The Good Wife" and in the movie "Secretariat." He's several times made the switch from politics to show biz and back again. As for the impact that his presidential bid on the latest incarnation of his entertainment career, he said, "It didn't seem to hurt. Whether it helped any or not, I don't know."