This morning, the only debate was whether he was losing ground by not participating in the Fox debate tonight. The short answer to that is yes. Thompson's spokesperson said the decision to debut on Leno instead of the GOP debate was made because "regular people" don't watch debates. That's true. They don't, at least not this early in the process. But you know who does? Regularly voting, passionate, involved conservatives and Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
Many of them are inclined to support him-- nay, have even been the driving force behind his getting into the race, and yet he looks to have snubbed them for a national television appearance from L.A., of all places. If I may, it has a bit of that McCain media-darling feel to it, ala announcing on Letterman. That "Sure, I'm a Republican, but I assure I'm not like them" vibe the base gets from him. If Fred wants to distance himself from the pack, fine. If he wants to play Washington outsider, cool. But he's left the voters of the big three primary states waiting for a long time. Get on with it, already.
In waiting this long, he's already given Huckabee a chance to distinguish himself and make a mark, thereby increasing the competition and the money and time needed to beat it. In waiting for one more night, he's giving the whole field a chance to bat him around like a helium balloon. For a guy who's already fighting a narrative that pegs him as an unmotivated, floating, slowly deflating entity, allowing McCain and Co. a chance to stick the pin in him is a bad idea.
Well, that was the debate this morning. Now, we've got a whole other ball of wax to deal with.
More campaign defections/firings?
The original Fredheads are no longer angry or frustrated; most have been fired already or given up. The remaining originals say they will quit soon.
The latest person let go by the campaign was Jim Mills, a long-time Capitol Hill producer for FOX News, who was told on Friday. A little over a month earlier, Mills was personally recruited and hired as spokesman by Fred and Jeri Thompson at their dinner table.
As one insider said of Mills' departure, "he was recruited and hired by the candidate and his wife and they did not have the guts to let him go themselves. They have wrecked his life and it's totally wrong."
Mills has become the biggest victim, but there are literally a dozen people who also left successful careers in Washington and elsewhere who now find themselves out of work -- and many are suspicious that they were misled. Expect some public statements soon.
And, possible public statements to boot. And, the death of a New Media campaign?
There are more major resignations of founding Fredheads now looming over the way the "new media strategy" was supplanted by a "corporate" and "predictable" aproach. They are also protesting the way so many people have been treated by the candidate and spouse.
Mills was given the news by Bill Lacy, Thompson's new campaign manager, who ran Thompson's 1994 Senate race and was later an ad consultant for Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign before being fired himself.
Lacy is filling Thompson’s team with mostly old school GOP staffers from 1994 and 1996. Todd Harris, the new communications director, is a veteran of McCain 2000. He is a pro and knows exactly what's happened...
Instead of running a "new kind of media strategy" it's now "pretty corporate" according to insiders.
We could have used a decent New Media candidate on our side of the aisle.
From Geraghty's always-impeccable sources:
Here's the thing: there are only a handful of folks who would count as key founding Fredheads, maybe two handfuls if you use a looser definition. I’ve eliminated a few suspects; one Fredhead who I suspected said he wasn’t the source for the Fox quote, but that “this has changed things.” When asked what happened that gets a guy like Mills out of a job after a week, the response was, “People are callous… this is a Washington power play. You’ve seen people do this.”And, hints of the announcements to come?
We're hearing Mark Corallo, formerly Fred Thompson's chief spokesman and his right-hand man when it was just a bunch of folks around a kitchen table - is out.Sheesh. Not the most flawless launch...