I think there are a lot of Tennesseans today watching Fred Thompson to see what he’s going to do next. Looking at some of the posts around the blogosphere from last night as well as Ken Whitehouse’s excellent first person perspective from South Carolina, it seems that Thompson will be sputtering toward the presidential light at the end of the proverbial tunnel within the next few days.
I’m not so sure, honestly, but I think they are right. He lost South Carolina, the state he was predicted to sweep in the early days of his campaign.
When Thompson (finally) announced last summer, I’ll be honest, I was a bit worried. I thought he would do much better than he has, of course, we didn’t anticipate the Huckabee/Norris ticket or the Internet buzz of Ron Paul. When MSM was trying to bury John McCain, who I’ve always thought was a force to be reckoned with personally, they tended to make Thompson all sexy.
But here’s the thing, he wasn’t. Not once in this race has he lived up to the hype and spin that was the focus during the pre-announcement days of his plans to run for president. His campaign was something that the Republicans and the Democrats anticipated quite anxiously.
And then when he actually announced it went downhill fast.
Although he has the cool voice and the popular acting career, he has been unfocused and appears to be tired. He has literally napped through the debates as well as the campaign and, this is just me talking, he has appeared to not really care about winning.
Americans are a funny breed when it comes to voting. They want spark and fire or they want someone they feel they can relate to. Or they vote for the person they wouldn’t mind trading places with. They like the underdog as well, and Thompson has not capitalized on that at all which if he really wanted the White House, he would have done. Voters love the comeback kids of the world. They do not want a candidate who has a sense of entitlement or who looks absolutely bored to death.
On top of everything else, he just doesn’t seem to want it.
Now, with that said I interviewed Thompson when he was running for the Senate back in the day. (Yeah, I’m long in the tooth, shut up.) He was a fantastic interview but that was a decade and a half ago. He was driving the red-pick up, talking with that home-spun charm he was famous for and he was pretty fiery. And he sold the moderate Republican package very well (I’ve been around the block a time or too, I knew spin when I saw it but he did it well.) Of course, after eight years of Bush, Republicans don’t do the moderate thing like they used to. And the thing is, I know a ton of moderate Republicans but for whatever reason it’s not translating to national races these days. I guess what I’m saying is he didn’t seem like a bad guy at all. I didn’t vote for him, mind you, but as a rural reporter on the beat back in the day, he was a fun interview.
But that fire is no longer there. Could it be the cancer battle he recently endured? Could it be that he was “expected” to run? Is he sticking around to help out McCain, as some pundits believe? Is he going to stick it out until Super Tuesday?
Either way, a third-place finish in South Carolina is bad news for Fred Dalton.