I really like the guy. I like his policies. I like the fact that there was enough enthusiasm back during the summer for him to really fill a vacuum. It just never happened, and I've always felt he wasn't all the way in. Of course, I rather think a guy who's not as keen on being president/running for president might be the best kind of conservative president. Heck, Tom Coburn is arguably our best senator and I think it's precisely because he dislikes being in the Senate, and all the Washington mess, and doesn't care who he ticks off trying to change things.
His best moment came when he launched his campaign. At the end of that week, he took the lead in the Republican field in national polls.
But Thompson saw his poll numbers plummet from the high 20s and low 30s in early September to single digits by the end of last year. His support in early-voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire declined so far that he barely campaigned in those battlegrounds.
Campaign aides worked hard to cover for their candidate's lack of enthusiasm, explaining his lack of campaign appearances -- he often had just one public event a day -- by saying Thompson was running a different kind of campaign that would harness the power of Internet communications and conservative talk radio.
Yet in the five minutes of that October speech in Florida, Thompson did the most to validate the chief criticism of his 2008 presidential bid: that he never had the fire in his belly to be a serious contender.
"His rivals would do more in a day than Fred would do in a month," said one disaffected Thompson insider. "He created the perception, fairly or not, that he was just going through the motions."
"Thompson never filled those huge shoes from last summer's polls, but he did manage to score well in the debates and get a respectful vote in South Carolina," said Scott Reed, who managed Robert J. Dole's 1996 presidential campaign.
The attitude works for a well-known doctor in a state race in Oklahoma. It didn't work on a national scale because it just didn't keep people's attention in a crowded race.
Rudy has suffered something of the same fate because he hasn't been part of the storyline in Iowa or New Hampshire or South Carolina, and the poll numbers just keep dropping.
So, does Fred want to be veep? That's an 8 year (maybe even 4-year) path to the presumptive nomination if, say, McCain named him a running mate. In that case, he would need to stay in 'til Florida to split Huck's vote again.