Has Fred Thompson Waited Too Long?

Rick Moran
Some people are asking if Fred Thompson hasn't waited too long to enter the race for the Republican nomination.:
Fred Thompson had his chance to make a splashy entrance into the race. In fact, he has had many chances to do something to impress political watchers and his fans on the right. Time and again, though, he has missed those opportunities.

Instead of managing expectations and raising impressive sums, his campaign reported disappointingly low numbers. Instead of hiring a staff and sticking with it, his campaign has already been beset by turnover. Instead of serving as the conservatives' best hope, they are forced to make excuses as to why his positions are acceptable to them.

Every day he remains out of the race is another day of organizing and winning support lost. At some point, time simply runs out. Thompson has simply waited too long to take advantage of the good will, good fortune and good position that awaited him once he entered the race.
I'm not sure the author is correct that Thompson has blown his chances. First of all, those chances were not very good to begin with. The reason he has held off entering the race so long is that he would never have been able to compete with Guiliani or Romney in raising money - probably close to $100 million for both men. This necessarily means his organization will be smaller.

Remember, Thompson's name didn't even surface until late April when some social conservatives were dissatisfied with the choices facing the party. Thompson may not have been drafted, but the opportunity presented itself late in the game. This necessistated a different kind of strategy in order to mount what could be considered something of a guerrilla campaign.

Thus was born Thompson's internet campaign Almost an old fashioned "Front Porch" strategy, the former Tennessee Senator generated interest and buzz for his campaign by writing for high profile blogs, releasing videos on YouTube, and publishing Op-Ed's in several different newspapers - all available on line. Bloggers and on line activists bit on the bait he was dangling and eventually, all that buzz on the internet jumped into the mainstream.

It really was a brilliant strategy - with obvious limitations. Not being a declared candidate, Thompson was prevented by law from raising too much money (only monies he could reasonably expect to spend relating to his exploratory committee). And with little in the way of paid staff, Thompson was forced to run a shoestring operation. This lack of staff has been most obvious when looking at the various controversies of Thompson's lobbying clients as well as his wife's supposed dominance at campaign headquarters. Slow to respond to these charges allowed them to gain a little traction and cut into his support.

Now that staff is exploding in preparation for his announcement early next month and there have been growing pains. I don't know if the controversy over his wife's role is a real or manufactured problem. But it is clear that Thompson has been groping for the right team to help him win the nomination. And once he has announced, he will need to raise as much as any other Republican candidate in the next quarter in order to be competitive. The front loaded primary system means that he will have to break through somewhere early - probably not Iowa where he may not even compete but almost certainly in New Hampshire or South Carolina.

The job is not impossible. But I don't think you can blame the timing of his announcement. He is probably doing as well as can be expected given the circumstances he was presented with. Whether it will be enough, we'll know fairly early in the primaries.
Some people are asking if Fred Thompson hasn't waited too long to enter the race for the Republican nomination.:
Fred Thompson had his chance to make a splashy entrance into the race. In fact, he has had many chances to do something to impress political watchers and his fans on the right. Time and again, though, he has missed those opportunities.

Instead of managing expectations and raising impressive sums, his campaign reported disappointingly low numbers. Instead of hiring a staff and sticking with it, his campaign has already been beset by turnover. Instead of serving as the conservatives' best hope, they are forced to make excuses as to why his positions are acceptable to them.

Every day he remains out of the race is another day of organizing and winning support lost. At some point, time simply runs out. Thompson has simply waited too long to take advantage of the good will, good fortune and good position that awaited him once he entered the race.
I'm not sure the author is correct that Thompson has blown his chances. First of all, those chances were not very good to begin with. The reason he has held off entering the race so long is that he would never have been able to compete with Guiliani or Romney in raising money - probably close to $100 million for both men. This necessarily means his organization will be smaller.

Remember, Thompson's name didn't even surface until late April when some social conservatives were dissatisfied with the choices facing the party. Thompson may not have been drafted, but the opportunity presented itself late in the game. This necessistated a different kind of strategy in order to mount what could be considered something of a guerrilla campaign.

Thus was born Thompson's internet campaign Almost an old fashioned "Front Porch" strategy, the former Tennessee Senator generated interest and buzz for his campaign by writing for high profile blogs, releasing videos on YouTube, and publishing Op-Ed's in several different newspapers - all available on line. Bloggers and on line activists bit on the bait he was dangling and eventually, all that buzz on the internet jumped into the mainstream.

It really was a brilliant strategy - with obvious limitations. Not being a declared candidate, Thompson was prevented by law from raising too much money (only monies he could reasonably expect to spend relating to his exploratory committee). And with little in the way of paid staff, Thompson was forced to run a shoestring operation. This lack of staff has been most obvious when looking at the various controversies of Thompson's lobbying clients as well as his wife's supposed dominance at campaign headquarters. Slow to respond to these charges allowed them to gain a little traction and cut into his support.

Now that staff is exploding in preparation for his announcement early next month and there have been growing pains. I don't know if the controversy over his wife's role is a real or manufactured problem. But it is clear that Thompson has been groping for the right team to help him win the nomination. And once he has announced, he will need to raise as much as any other Republican candidate in the next quarter in order to be competitive. The front loaded primary system means that he will have to break through somewhere early - probably not Iowa where he may not even compete but almost certainly in New Hampshire or South Carolina.

The job is not impossible. But I don't think you can blame the timing of his announcement. He is probably doing as well as can be expected given the circumstances he was presented with. Whether it will be enough, we'll know fairly early in the primaries.