Fred Thomspon is not in the race for the Republican Nomination for candidate for President of the United States. However, he continues to outpace most of the announced candidates, including some of the so called "first tier" candidates. So, how is it that a man who has done nothing but say "Maybe I'll get in, just wait" is outpacing all these guys that are collecting and spending millions of dollars? It's because the current field of Republican candidates is awful. Fred is not popular by his own virtue, it's just that a tough-talking actor is a lot more appealing than most of the announced Republicans. Let's run down the list of candidates to see why they're falling short:
Rudy Giuliani- By far my least favorite of the whole pack. He's pro-choice, he's a gun grabber, he has stifled freedom of speech several times in New York City (The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has given him several "Muzzle Awards" for his actions) and his claim to fame is his proximity to the fall of the World Trade Centers. In a pre-9/11 America, Rudy would be no where near where he is right now in the race. On top of that, Rudy has more skeletons in his closet than policy positions. Prediction: His campaign will implode before the first primary election is held.
John McCain- Another one that's not much to look at. He's hawkish, but opposes torture, a no-no in a Republican party that is hell bent on making sure every last terrist suffers a gruesome end. I actually laud him for his stance on the Orwellian enhanced interrogation techniques that are favored by eight of his nine colleagues. What I don't like about him is his part in the McCain-Feingold Act. Campaign finance reform inevitably entrenches incumbents and actually lends the system to greater corruption. It's a strike against him for many conservatives and libertarians in the GOP. He's also lost most conservatives on the immigration deal.
Mitt Romney- A candidate that is unremarkable except for his faith and amount of money. Mitt Romney has flip-flopped more than John Kerry in a Pancake House. He was for abortion before he was against it. He wants to cut spending at the Federal level, after he increased the Massachusetts state budget as governor. This is a candidate that offers nothing to social or fiscal conservatives. All he offers is Reagan-esque hair and "optimism". Prediction: Romney will be on several short lists for Vice President, due to his image.
This rounds out the so called "top tier". It's incredibly weak. Prediction: Due to the current weakness of the top tier, by the time the New Hampshire primary arrives there will be a new top tier with three different candidates.
Now, onto the so called "second tier":
Mike Huckabee- I don't know a lot about him, but he comes across as a "compassionate conservative", which is no conservative at all, says I. After six years of Bush, and the largest increase in the size of government since the Great Society, I don't think the fiscal conservatives will tolerate him. Despite this, his style helps him immensely, and he courts the religious right better than any other candidate right now. Prediction: Mike Huckabee will be top tier by the New Hampshire Primary.
Tommy Thompson- The "other" Thompson, who so ineptly reminded us all during the June debate that he's not a popular, famous actor from Tennessee, but rather a Turkey-necked ex-governor of Wisconsin. He's been weak at most of the debates. He was terrible during the first one, failing to provide an adequate explanation for why employers should be allowed to fire gays (which is different than saying they should) for being gay. After the fall out, he blamed his response on his hearing aid and bladder. At the second debate, he gave us bureaucratic jargon when asked what three programs he would cut from the Federal budget. Not until his question about health care at the June debate did he appear at least adequate. Prediction: Tommy will be gone by the end of November 2007.
Jim Gilmore- Jim Gilmore's biggest problem is that he doesn't stand out from anyone else. More than any other candidate (Duncan Hunter is close) I can never remember anything about what he says. When I discuss the debates with friends, I want to say something about each candidate's performance, and I can never think of anything, positive or negative, to say about Gilmore. He's forgettable, he'll be forgotten.
Duncan Hunter- Very much the same as Jim Gilmore, but at least I can remember that he wants a double fence along the border, named after him of course. He also has a son, Duncan Jr., that is serving in Iraq. It's good to know he has a personal stake in the mess.
Sam Brownback- Just like Gilmore and Hunter, except that I can remember something bad about Brownback. His stance of partitioning Iraq into Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish states is awful. It's probably the second worst idea I've heard during the debates (the worst was that we should double Guantanamo in size), and it's bad for him that this is the main thing I remember about him. I don't know if voters realize how bad an idea this is, but it's enough for me to not want to vote for Sam. He also lacks the charisma to win the nomination. He's in the running for VP, but that will still be a tough, long campaign.
Tom Tancredo- Admirable for his strong stance against Bush, but it's not a winning strategy. His tough anti-immigration talk will gain him some attention, but only if the issue stays in the news. He'll be hurt by his positions in the end, he's just too extreme, even if he's closer to the base than McCain.
Ron Paul- My personal favorite, but he has a tough battle ahead. His Internet celebrity status will help, but his biggest problem is that most news coverage of the campaign is reporting the horse race, and telling the people what the "front runners" are doing day to day. He needs to run spots in New Hampshire and get his "scientific poll" numbers up if he wants the attention the current "top tier" has. Paul is the lonely anti-war candidate for the Republicans. This will not help him win over supporters of the war, no matter how fiscally conservative he is. His best hope is that Republicans will tire of the war in large numbers during the next six months. It does seem likely that opinion will only go down of the war. Paul faces numerous other problems, and I could spend an entire blog post talking about his campaign, but I'll just give you a few more thoughts. As the only anti-war candidate, he'll gain traction as Republican opinion of the war sours. Prediction: Ron Paul will be one of the "top tier" candidates come January.
This wraps up the "second tier". In my opinion, it's not as disappointing from a position stand point (it's much better), but it is far weaker in popularity of style and personality.
So, faced with a terrible "top tier" and a "second tier" laden with uncharismatic dolts (excluding Huckabee, who is charismatic, and Paul, who is not a dolt) it only seems natural that voters would be looking for someone else to enter the race. Fred's appeal isn't what he's done, or his positions. Fred's winning campaign slogan could be summed up: "I'm not Rudy McRomney." Prediction: Fred Thompson will be a "top tier" candidate in January.
By allowing rumors of his entrance into the race flourish, Fred has given himself a lot of name recognition, on top of the name recognition he has from being an actor. As Reason described him though, he's Bush with a deeper voice. He also supported McCain's Campaign Finance Reform. On a positions stand point, I'm not convinced he's worth my support. And I'm certainly not in favor of supporting a candidate who's position on Iraq is to do what the President is doing. It's one thing to say you'd finish the war, but claiming you'd do it just like the current President is ridiculous. While Fred might gain votes in the GOP with that talk, it's no way to court the millions of Americans that are sick of fighting the war all together.
Rudy Giuliani's campaign will implode before the primaries begin
Romney will be considered seriously as a pick for Vice President
There will be a new "top tier" by January, with three different candidates in it.
The new "top tier" will be Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul and Fred Thompson
Tommy Thompson will drop out of the race before the end of November