Rich Galen

DISCLOSURE: For those who came in after the opening credits, I am a paid advisor to the Fred Thompson Presidential campaign.

* Roger Simon of handicapped the Republican Presidential debate in his curtain-raiser thus:

* Has there ever been a major presidential candidate with lower expectations on the eve of his first debate than Fred Thompson?

All he has to do is not fall asleep.

All he has to do is not throw up.

All he has to do is not drool.

* The debate, which was co-sponsored by CNBC, MSNBC and the Wall Street Journal, was held on Tuesday in Dearborn, Michigan a few hundred yards from the Ford Motor Company headquarters.

* It was Thompson's first debate. The most previous debate, which had been held in New Hampshire, occurred on the night that Thompson appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno to announce he was entering the race.

I have said to reporters a number of times over the past month by suggesting the cries of "foul" by the Republican candidates who were in New Hampshire that night might have had just the slightest tinge of envy green.

I invented this fictitious question by one of those candidates to his staff: "How was it that Thompson got to sit next to Jay Leno and I had to stand next to Ron Paul?"

* The buzz around Thompson was deafening in the run-up to the debate. It was do or die for Thompson.

Fox News: [Thompson] is trying to surpass low expectations for his performance and prove that he's in the contest for real and prepared to be president.

The Baltimore Sun: Thompson entered his premier televised debate as a presidential candidate today with remarkably low expectations. That's the way he wanted it.

Washington Post: This Afternoon's GOP Debate Is Seen As A Crucial Test So are the expectations artificially high or low for Thompson? Probably a combination of the two.

* The press corps which was gathered in the filing center seemed as interested in the pre-game body language of Thompson communications director, Todd Harris, as they were in discussing who-needed-to-do-what over the course of the ensuing two hours.

* Here's a tip for the political geniuses at NBC: Two hours is too long.

* And here's another tip for those same political geniuses: Two hours is also too long for Chris Matthews to act like a professional.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at