Could Fred Thompson be a decent ‘compromise’ candidate for the thousands of us pulling for Ron Paul? Possibly, he even manages a halfway positive write up from <a href=”http://www.reason.com/news/show/122572.html”>Jacob Sullum on Reason</a>. He does espouse the virtues of small government and actually seems to give more than lip service to that idea, and has a voting record to prove his belief. Of course, his views on the war are a complete 180 from Paul. But it may show just how radical today’s Republican candidates have become that Thompson may now, along with Paul, be the only candidates out there who are both extolling the virtues of small government and have a record that shows they believe it too.
The real problem for Thompson is that he has to start taking this seriously and looking presidential. I think Hillary Clinton really seems to understand the mood of the electorate this year, and she understands that during a time of unpopular war, the American voter is probably going to place a higher importance on experience and competence than in most elections.
The biggest negative about Thompson is a perception that he’s not ‘serious’ as a candidate. Essentially, skipping the New Hampshire debate to appear on Jay Leno, was, I think, a huge mistake, and the kind of mistake that has to be a one-time thing, not a trend. Ross Perot could have been president in 1992 until he tried to drop out of the race, almost strictly to avoid a bruising debate fight. When he came back in, he had lost all credibility. Thompson can’t follow Perot’s path in either action or spirit if he hopes to win in 2008.
Thompson has to start getting down and dirty. At least he seems to have committed to a decent number of debates, including one that’s already been canceled! That’s a good start.
My current handicap ….
Democratic nomination… 65% chance for HIllary, 35% for Obama. I originally wrote 60-40 for Clinton. Obama does have a number of things going for him, including incredible dynamism, strong fundraising, decent polling in Iowa, and, amazingly, could have the ‘electability’ factor as an advantage, if he’d use it. You can be sure the Clintonites will turn, in very quiet ways, no doubt, Obama’s race against him. Much as how Kerry came from behind against Dean in 2004, Obama can still use electability to his advantage. But Senator Clinton is doing a fine job, I think, so far in her campaign, and may actually be helping to erase her fairly large negatives with the general populace. Who would have thought that Clinton would be the one candidate on both sides sitting closest to the ‘middle’?
Republican nomination … who the heck knows!? Right now I think it’s a horse race between Romney and Giuliani. Romney has both money and strong polling in early states that could easily vault him over Giuliani. Thompson has a real shot as long as he shows he’s serious. I’d love to see McCain get it, but GOP primary voters seem to be his hardest audience. Ron Paul is, I think, along with Mike Huckabee, a legitimate wild card, but still does not seem to have a real chance at the nomination. That could change for them if either Iowa or New Hampshire go for either one in a big way early on.