"[Thompson] is sure to face sharper criticism from those who say that his eight-year Senate record was undistinguished and that his credentials as a conservative are marred by his support of campaign finance reform. Some also say he is a lackadaisical campaigner, pointing to his sometimes rambling maiden speech last month in Orange County, Calif., as evidence that he is overhyped.
Republican pollster Neil Newhouse, who helps conduct the NBC-Wall Street Journal Poll with Democrat Peter Hart, said an analysis of their most recent poll indicated that Thompson's entry could initially hurt Giuliani and McCain." --a Michael Shear and Dan Ballz story in The Washington Post, 5/31/07
It is different in the pool. There are elbows, and reporters, and opposition research.
But from the perspective of a columnist and talk show host, the entry of Fred Thompson into the race is a great day. The sooner the GOP debates get down to the big four (plus Newt if he gets in) the better. Senator Brownback, Governor Huckabee, and Congressman Hunter are fine men and serious public servants, but if you can’t get over 10% in even one state poll from among the first four states in which contests will be held –Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida and South Carolina—you shouldn’t be in the first tier, and only the first tier should be taking up prime time in the months ahead.
Many of my blog readers think I am in the bag for Romney based on my book’s disclosure that if the California primary had been held the day the book appeared I would have voted for Romney. That assessment still holds, but as the book noted, campaigns are long, strange affairs. People cry in the back of trucks. Candidates grab microphones and fall off stages. Even presidents can make astonishing errors in their appearances, and they have the best advance team in the world. So a lot can happen between now and next January and February.
Fred Thompson is yet another entrant in the GOP lists who is serious about the war, making that unanimous agreement among the GOP top tier versus a unanimous endorsement of retreat and date certain defeat among the Democrats. There’s the defining issue f the general campaign.