Is Fred Thompson Done Before He Starts?

Investor’s Business Daily seems to think that the man who skipped the debate last night, Fred Dalton Thompson, is already out of it before he’s even gotten started,

“Wlady Pleszczynski, editorial director for the conservative American Spectator magazine, says the long, slow rollout of Thompson’s campaign has backfired.

“So far this year he’s been a big tease, and . . . (it has) undermined his implied claims to being a real man. A real man doesn’t have things both ways,” Pleszczynski said. Thompson’s few campaign appearances so far haven’t helped.

“More than once we’ve already heard people react to a Thompson appearance by saying they were ‘underwhelmed.’ That’s what happens when image and hype don’t have a basis in substance,” said Pleszczynski.

…Other grass-roots conservatives have expressed similar disappointment. A recent National Review cover story opened with a lengthy anecdote about Thompson being upstaged at a meeting of top GOP insiders by rival Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor.

…Numerous staff shake-ups, lackluster fundraising — just $4 million last quarter — and a refusal until now to commit to running have dismayed would-be fans.

“(W)hen you haven’t run anything before and you can’t seem to run your campaign, either, it begins to raise the question of whether you should be president,” National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru said in a Web posting.

From what I’ve seen, Fred Thompson’s grassroots support is still extremely strong. In fact, unless his campaign is totally inept, I expect his support will mean that he will handily win the 4th quarter fund raising race amongst Republicans. Unfortunately, that will probably still leave him with a large cash-on-hand disadvantage compared to Rudy. So, when the primaries role around, Rudy may simply be able to bury him with advertising in some key states.

Also, New Hampshire and Iowa are hands on states that insist on lots of visits from the candidates. Again, Fred is way behind in that area and the fact that he has a rep as being lazy and is talking way so much about a new kind of campaigning makes me worry that he won’t spend enough time in those states. Given that he’s generally running 3rd in Iowa and 4th in New Hampshire, that’s a bit worrisome.

Then there are the debates. Because Fred hasn’t participated in any so far, an inordinate amount of attention will be paid to his future performances. That may be tough on him because his rivals have had a lot more practice time. So comparatively, he’s at a disadvantage.

Those are the problems that Fred faces.

On the other hand, he has some real strengths as well.

He’s generally polling in 2nd place nationally, I do expect him to raise a lot of money, he has the most grassroots support, he has a better handle on the new media than any of the other candidates, he has a little distance from the current GOP problems in DC because he has been out of office, he doesn’t seem to have a lot of baggage, and he is the most conservative top tier candidate.

Personally, I think Thompson would have been a lot better off if he’d gotten in back in July, but he’s still in pretty good shape. Still, he has a lot more work to do if he’s going to capture the nomination.

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