Going Out The Way He Came In

I know I’ve been here before; the rumors and the whispers, the expectations held so high only to be dashed by postponement after postponement.  This is what it was like when we were waiting for Fred Thompson to officially enter the presidential race, and now that we’re only two weeks from Super Tuesday, the big question seems to be, “When will he go?”

It is, many believe, the drawn out process by which Thompson entered the race which at least partly led to the failure of his candidacy to get off the ground.  That and the fact that Thompson just doesn’t seem to be that great of a candidate.

In any case, Thompson’s inability to get traction in the GOP contest has led some to wonder almost from the time of his announcement when he would announce leaving the race.

Even I would have suggested that after placing a paltry third in South Carolina would have resulted in the end of Fred Thompson’s participation; Iowa got caught up by Huck’s magic, and Fred would always be at a disadvantage up North in Michigan and New Hampshire.  But losing South Carolina?  That was supposed to be his bread and butter.

And he fumbled it.

Yet, before the numbers came out to confirm that the former senator and lobbyist was about to suffer another critical defeat early in the season, his campaign signaled that he would carry on to Florida.

The problem with Florida is that Fred’s consistently polling in the basement, coming in at around fifth place in yet another state he should play well in.  At this point, I don’t see the point.

But there comes news which may finally put an end to the speculation.  Thompson is apparently spending time with his ailing mother during perhaps the most important week of his political survival.  Now, I’m not so bloodless so as to minimize the significance of Thompson’s mother’s ailment.  He’s staying with her, and that’s a good thing.

But what I find interesting is the language put out by the Thompson staffer.  There is talk that he’s not endorsing anyone, and that he’s interested in neither a cabinet position, nor a veep offer.  In other words, it’s very defeatist.

Which means that Thompson is likely to get out soon, and the reasoning behind his leaving the race will most likely be to care for his mother.

Will he turn around and endorse?  Who knows?  It has been widely speculated that once Thompson does jump out of the race, he’s likely to endorse his freind and former Senate ally, John McCain.  This would, in and of itself, almost seal the deal for McCain for Thompson may not have enough support to win the nomination, it’s still of considerable strength and McCain would get a definite leg up.

But the comment that he’s not likely to endorse anyone leads me to believe that he’s waiting until after Florida.  This even more so if he does indeed entertain the idea of endorsing McCain.

The thing is, Thompson endorsing McCain is not going to automatically transfer his support in that direction.  I think there are more than a few of his supporters that would naturally be opposed to the McCain candidacy.  Thus, it will take some work on Thompson’s behalf to shift his support to the Maverick.  That takes work and time, and with Florida days away, he hasn’t the ability to do the former now, and he lacks the latter almost completely.

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