Finally! The Republicans have a candidate who isn’t really a prosecutor from New York, but plays one on TV. It’s kind of like Reagan being the more manly candidate in 1980 because he played someone who’d been to war as opposed to Bush I who was an honest to God war hero (not that it absolves any of the crap that happened during his presidency).
In case you somehow missed it, Fred Thompson is likely in the Presidential race. Given the local Fred Thompson fans that seem so energetic in past comment threads, there’s some more to discuss.
I suspect he’ll make a better theoretical candidate than an actual one. And he wasn’t that good of a theoretical candidate. But it is further than I thought he would take it.
The immediate question on many a politicos mind is how exactly Thompson affects the race for the Republican nomination. Charlie Cook says he hurts Rudy Giuliani, specifically that support for Thompson:
I think you’ll find that “politicos” should be possessive. Although, I’m not sure how many Republican politicos are in possession of a mind.
doesn’t come at the expense of any one candidate but might come from front-runner Giuliani more than the others. This might be an affirmation of the view of many analysts that Giuliani’s lead is inflated by his 9/11 performance and is less durable than the support of other candidates in the race.
Could be. But I’m not so sure that he won’t have reached his high water mark when people find out what his actual positions are.
The Fix says Mitt Romney probably suffers more. Jonathan Martin has a good explanation for how Thompson may take a little bit away from each of the Big Three in unique ways.
The point is that we should hear another two years of how Democrats are divided.
Like many, I’m curious to see how Thompson actually plays on the campaign trail. Chuck Todd wonders about the Wesley Clark factor:
And is he attracting GOPers’ attention because who he isn’t — rather than who he is? What, in short, makes him any different than Wes Clark was in 2003-4, sans the military medals?
Clark would have made a great president. He inspired a draft movement that had much more substance than the silly stuff around any of the non- Al Gore candidates this time. And maybe even more than what’s happening with Gore.
Thompson may well be attracting support because of the idea of his candidacy, as opposed to the actual candidacy that may unfold…though it seems unlikely even a poor run by Thompson would match Clark’s terrible showing.
I mean compare Clark‘s ideas with Thompson’s and tell me you’d rather have the later? Who needs a real general when you can have a pretend admiral? Hey, I wonder if he got to keep his wardrobe from Red October, because then that would save the taxpayers some money when he prances around a carrier!
Jonathan Martin also lays out the many challenges Thompson faces, which are not to be taken lightly. Here’s one good observation:
Thompson is in some ways a mere vessel right now for Republicans dissatisfied with the current crop of candidates. Despite his fame, his non-acting background, record and policy views aren’t well known. He’ll need to make certain who he is, what he believes and why he’s running while his public image is still as favorable as it is and before others muddy the waters.
Well I agree with the first observation. But the truth is that people are going to get to know more about him and like him less as a result regardless of what positions he decides to have.
As part of that question of defining one’s candidacy before others do it for you is how Thompson campaigns in the early states. Martin says:
Exploiting all that New Media has to offer via blogging and posting videos is smart and effective. But it’s not good enough for people in places like Iowa and New Hampshire who demand a personal touch. The modest town of Le Mars, Iowa, for example, will draw two of the top three Republican candidates back to back this week. They’ll expect to see their party’s latest hopeful live and in person, not just on their computers or on their TV sets when “Law and Order” re-runs air.
He’s got the better part of a year to put in some face time in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other states.
Excellent point. Beyond the retail politics, how does Thompson the candidate play outside the South? Richard Baehr thinks maybe not very well:
I don’t know, he make believe won an election to an office that has gone consistently Democratic since the New Deal. That’s got to count for something.
I think Thompson is by far the least likely of the 4 major GOP candidates to be elected if nominated, assuming he decides to run. This is due to one principal factor; his Southern roots. This is also one of several reasons why Newt Gingrich is almost certainly unelectable were he to be nominated.This may not be fair, but it is the reality of the 2008 race. The Democrats have had success in their multiyear campaign to identify the GOP as largely a Southern regional party, and a bigoted one at that. You may not like it, but pretending that the problem doesn’t exist is foolish.
If you don’t like the Democrats calling y’all Southern racists, maybe you should stop courting Southern racists. And then, Eric Earling, stop making apologies for them. Democrats were rightly considered the party of Southern racists for most of our history. Then we kicked them to the curb in an effort going at least from FDR in the mid 30′s through Truman desegregating the army to the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act and beyond to the present. We made the effort to rid our party of the racists and your party invited them in. Nixon’s Southern strategy. Reagan opening his campaign in Philadelphia Mississippi! Making sure Bob Jones is a stop on the campaign trail! Genuflecting to the Confederate flag. Attempts to end affirmative action legislatively and through the courts. Christ on the cross, if you don’t want to be seen as the party of racists do something about the racists in your party.
It will be interesting to see if that’s true. Current polling in the three most-watched early states supports Baehr’s thesis, at least anecdotally. In South Carolina Thompson runs a comfortable third. In Iowa and New Hampshire he holds only a distant fourth by comparison.
If he can’t do shit in Iowa or New Hampshire, he’s not going to be running well in South Carolina. And what the hell is a comfortable third?
All this raises a couple questions I haven’t seen raised so I’ll pose them here. It is quite conceivable Thompson has trouble catching up in Iowa and New Hampshire, where organization and retail politics still play huge factors. Does he then become a Giuliani-like candidate, looking past the earliest states, hoping to survive the media rush of those first contests with eyes on bigger prizes like Florida on January 29th and the de facto national primary on February 5th? Can two major candidates hope to pull that strategy off while two others pay more serious attention to Iowa and New Hampshire? The potential permutations of various candidates winning and losing assorted states – and how that all affects the race – are mind boggling.
There’s no way you come in 4th, come in 4th, and then win big. Especially as a late entrant without much more to provide. People aren’t going to line up with a loser.
So, Thompson fans and other interested readers, what say you to all this?
I say they are all losers, so nominate whoever you want.