Fred Thoughts

Jennifer, I think you’re getting way too much in the trees with your analysis of Thompson, trying to interpret every interview, every staff change, every throwaway statement, as having major implications on the viability of his campaign. To some extent, all of the campaigns went through this stuff months ago: Giuliani, if you remember, was being criticized for having no organization, for not making an official announcement, for not holding town hall meetings or submitting himself to difficult interviews. The difference here is that Thompson is getting a late start, so while all of the other candidates have their organizations largely in place, have been campaigning for months, are rolling out advisors and policy specifics (though McCain has had some recent staff changes), etc., Thompson is just getting started, so the contrast between him and the other campaigns is greater, and everything he does is getting much more scrutiny.

Personally, I don’t think Thompson has said or done anything to generate the level of enthusiasm he has been generating and some of the arguments I’ve heard made from Thompson supporters are downright silly. It’s especially disappointing for me to hear conservatives cite Thompson’s Michael Moore video as a reason for supporting him. I thought the video was clever myself, but we’re talking about choosing the leader of the free world at a challenging time in history, and so I think making a choice based on somebody’s ability to confront an insignificant documentary filmmaker seems to me a very shallow way to choose a president.

But while I don’t think Thompson has done anything to justify his level of support, on the flip side, I think it’s too early to suggest that his campaign is in trouble based on some staff changes and softball interviews. If this stuff is still going on a few months from now, I’ll agree that it’s a problem. But even though I support Giuliani’s presidential bid (and think he’ll be the nominee) because I believe he would be the best leader to fight terrorism and because he has the most impressive record of accomplishments, I recognize that a lot of people are not too keen on his positions on social issues, and since Romney and McCain haven’t made the sale, there’s still an opening for a viable conservative candidate. To echo Quin, if Thompson can fill that void when people actually start voting in January, he’ll be in position to capture the nomination no matter what is happening in the middle of the summer.