When Reality and Expectations Collide

As I pointed out a couple of days ago, the biggest obstacle facing a Fred Thompson nomination is whether he can face the conflicts between reality and the lofty expectations that have been set on his behalf.

Not having to meet this hurdle has been probably the strongest point in Fred’s rise in GOP polls as a non-candidate. When you’re not actively running, you don’t have to worry about meeting expectations, nor do you have to worry about trying to activate your campaign staff to at least maintain the perception that you because… you’re not running.

As a result, Thompson has essentially ran a very brilliant non-campaign, but as the Politico points out today, with Fred ready to throw his hat in the ring, his happy days as a non-candidate are about to quickly come to an end.

Behind the scenes, opponents of the soon to be announced Thompson campaign are running rampant to perform damage control, seeking to paint the former senator in a light different from the hype that has been spreading like wildfire among the GOP voting populace, and the arsenal they have come up with isn’t exactly lightweight stuff:

Lobbyist: It’s no mystery that people in America do not approve of DC business as usual, which makes plenty of room for an outsider candidate, and is part of the Thompson image that has been cultivated in the past few months. Problem is, he isn’t much of an outsider, spending a decent chunk of time as a lobbyist. If Americans don’t like DC business as usual, there is no greater symbol of this, especially since the Jack Abromoff scandal, than the L-word.

Trial Lawyer: According to the piece, opponents will attempt to paste the Trial Lawyer label on Thompson as well, another bad vibe badge among conservatives who successfully campaign against “frivolous lawsuits” time and again. Hitting the corporate base, frivolous lawsuits rise corporate costs everywhere from the Medical Field in the form of malpractice suits to the corporate world, the most famous case being the multimillion hot coffee from McDonald’s incident. While this doesn’t take up the opposing side of the argument that civil suits are a way to help protect consumers from large corporations who can get away with substandard service as long as they continue to make profit, it is still a juicy bit of red meat for Republican voters.

Bi-partisanship: Starting with his support of McCain Feingold, and running through to some leeway to paint him as pro abortion rights, the Politico points out another chink in Thompson’s armor that opponents will attempt to use, his ability to be bi-partisan. While a solely partisan candidate I think will not fair well in the general election at a time when people are furious over the partisan wars going on in DC, let’s be clear on one thing, GOP voters hate democrats, hate liberals, and don’t want their nominee having anything to do with either. Bipartisanship is like kryptonite in a time when in both GOP debates that I saw dedicated about ten minutes each to the candidates getting into a “Who’s more conservative?” contest.

Whether these charges stick remain to be seen, though I think it is important to watch for two reasons. The first is simply because if these attacks are successful, we’ll see the chances for success among camp Thompson dwindle. But the other thing is that in the early weeks as the charges are levied against Thompson and his campaign attempts to field them, it’ll give an early and important look into the mechanics and effectiveness of the campaign crew that Thompson has built.

In a conversation I had yesterday with a good friend and Newshogger, Fester, watch the polls on Thompson, but don’t watch them now, nor right after he announces. Those are easy to predict. His stock will rise now as anticipation grows amid the disappointment in the rest of the field, and it will get an even bigger bump directly after the announcement. That’s not important. What will be important is to watch the polls a few weeks after Thompson’s entrance and after the first debate that he participates in. That’s when you’ll really be able to tell how good of a shot Thompson has at unseating Rudy Giuliani.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook