Not Dead Yet?

Having missed last night's debate, I surfed around to get a sense of how it went and there's one fairly consistent thread.

From Marc Ambinder:

This was Fred Thompson's second strong debate in a row; it's as if he realized there was a real campaign and that he had real talent to bring to bear in a way that makes him look good and his opponents look silly.

From zonk in the comments:

The focus group loved them some Fred.

From First Read:

In last night's GOP debate from South Carolina, Thompson was funny, biting, and energetic. It was easily his smoothest performance, but it wasn't necessarily presidential -- it was Jack Cafferty-esque or Paul Harvey-like. In short, he sounded like a smart (and cranky) pundit.

So you gotta wonder, what is it that's put a spring back in Grandpa Fred's step? Is it that South Carolina is make or break or that in the GOP primary, as South Carolina goes, so goes the nation? Or is there something else at work? Chuck Todd gives voice to my suspicions:

Is Thompson worried about Thompson or is Thompson trying to help John McCain because he certainly did John McCain a big favor by going after Mike Huckabee.

There was a lot of talk about Fred dropping out after Iowa and endorsing John McCain but perhaps he's calculated that he can actually be of more help to his buddy McCain by remaining in the race. Or maybe Fred just woke up.

Tags: 2008 Presidential election, Fred Thompson, John McCain, Republican debate (all tags)



Re: Not Dead Yet?

McCain NEEDS South Carolina.  Thompson's job there is to bash Huckabee so McCain wins it.  Helen Keller could see this coming.

However, the GOP focus groups are too stupid to figure this one out.

Hook, line, sinker.

by jgarcia 2008-01-11 08:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Not Dead Yet?

First, Chuck Todd is the main pundit-class purveyor of all these bizarre conspiracy theories in which Candidate X (who may have spent XX months on the campaign trail away from home and family, answering stupid questions from stupid reporters, and kissing too many wealthy contributors' behinds) is actually running for Vice President or running to help his Senate Cloakroom Buddy Candidate Z or running to increase his speaking fees. Whenever Todd goes into one of his "so-and-so is really running for..." riffs, please ignore him.

Second, the Thompson campaign's back is against the wall. South Carolina is the last bullet in the chamber for them. Thompson has probably been in debate preparation for days on end. Give any decent actor time to prepare and the right motivation, they'll deliver a strong performance. Thompson has finally found his motivation.

by blueflorida 2008-01-11 08:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Not Dead Yet?

Well...Old Fred probably does take more votes from Huckie Baby than from the others, so he could be part of the establishment plot to annoint McCain.

On the other hand, it's in Democrats' interests to keep a crowded field of six (McCain, Huckles, Romney, Rudy, Fred and Ron) all spending their time and money bashing each other instead of us. Ideally, none of them would be a clear front runner, or have enough delegates to ensure nomination. So anything that keeps Old Fred from dropping out entirely has a good side.

by admiralnaismith 2008-01-11 08:50AM | 0 recs
He keeps slipping in Texas

Polled the TX GOP last night and Thompson had his fifth straight monthly drop to 12%, while McCain shot up from 7% to 24%, just behind Huckabee at 26%.

Polled the Dems too, where Obama moved up 11 points and Clinton down 5.

by IVR Polls 2008-01-11 09:02AM | 0 recs
Josh Marshall

Saw it like I did (and opposite the RW blogs, focus group, etc) -- and pretty much for the same reasons.

I think it's the 'partisan' GOPers that have pretty much decided Thompson is the only one that "gets it".   These are the Republicans that don't really care about the SoCon agenda.   They don't really care about the fiscon agenda, at least -- not to the Ron Paulian or even Noquistian heights.  They aren't even all that moved by the G911liani islamocon arguments...

Don't get me wrong - I think they have opinions on these items, but it's not about pro anything anymore... it's not about tax cuts, defense spending, or curtailing abortion rights.  It's about being against something -- the GOP elite and what passes for the young GOP intelligentsia cares about nothing but battling the secular/socialist/islamofascist enemies of America.  

Who has really given them that?

Not Mitt- he's the guy for the for the crowd clinging to electability (and fooling themselves into thinking people will vote Dem-lite, just like we used to fool ourselves into GOP-lite).

Not Rudy- not enough red meat, too much baggage, and too single-issue.

CERTAINLY not Huck- so long as he keeps playing this populist card and kinder gentler evangelism -- he's probably their most hated candidate.

Not McCain - despite being more solidly conservative than the media or some Dems (or GOPers) will admit -- way too many off the reservation votes and comments... and they'll NEVER forgive him for going against the Swifties.

I stick by my analysis last night that Grandpa Fred falls apart after his version of 9-11, a noun, and a verb (a drawl, a quip, and some words that don't necessarily mean anything)... but the key is what IS that opening quip?

It's an attack against the enemies of the conservative movement.   How will you run against Obama?  He's a liberal.  Exactly - that's what the GOP partisans want to hear.

Fred delivers his quip attacking any theory, any policy, any group, or anyone that doesn't buy the theme of "us against them" --- then just meanders off... and they don't care.

This is what the GOP has been reduced to -- they're honest-to-God not for anything any longer... it's just about being against something.  Say what you want about the wurlitzer and smear merchants that ruled the 90s and early aughts -- they did have things they wanted done (stupid things, but things nonetheless).

It's almost like they're waiting for this sort of photo negative of Howard Dean... whereas we all sort of "needed" Dean to give us our spine back to oppose the GOP agenda -- they're desperate for someone that will validate and keep on life support the whole GOP movement of the last 20 years.

by zonk 2008-01-11 10:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Not Dead Yet?

I have a hard time believing that Grandpa Fred stepped it up just to help out John McCain.

Methinks that Grandpa Fred only looks out for Grandpa Fred.

by lalawguy 2008-01-11 12:17PM | 0 recs


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