Friday, September 07, 2007

Fred and the blogosphere

From the beginning-back in March when talk of a possible Fred Thompson Presidential bid first began to bubble inside the State of Tennessee, either Thompson or his supporters would often say that a Fred for President campaign would be "a different kind of campaign." Thompson's delayed entry into the race has certainly ignited a lot of passion among Tennessee Republicans, who are breathing a little easier since they believe a Thompson candidacy can help them gain control of both houses of the General Assembly. Before Fred Thompson's entry into the campaign became a possibility, I was ready to forgo active involvement in the federal election and concentrate all of my energies on Mike Faulk's State Senate campaign, and on the possibility of running for Alderman in White Pine myself next year.

The possibility of Fred Thompson winning the Republican nomination changes the equation for every Republican running for anything in Tennessee in 2008. Regardless of the outcome in the rest of the country, that Thompson will win the Tennessee Republican Primary on Super Tuesday (February 5) is almost a forgone conclusion. If he is nominated, he can also be expected to carry this State so easily in a General Election that Al Gore would be envious. With that kind of political power could come some huge coattails.

That this campaign is a different kind of race is already making itself apparent. In what could be viewed as a very odd move, Thompson made the most important announcement of his campaign-that he was officially a candidate-not at a public venue such as the Ryman Auditorium or the grounds of the State Capitol, but in a webcast on his campaign's internet site. It is clear that if Fred Thompson does not believe in the power of the New Media, someone in his campaign does.

The Thompson almost-campaign apparatus has been doing extensive networking on the internet from the very beginning of the Draft Fred movement. In blog-rich Tennessee, this is a necessity. However, it should be noted that Fred Thompson has been everywhere to be seen on the internet in recent months, but his public appearances have not kept up with his internet activity. Thompson's public appearances will doubless dramatically increase, but up to now Thompson has relied on the internet to an unbelievable degree to get his message out. There is no reason to believe that he will not continue to do so.

The Fred Thompson for President campaign will thus be a real test for the power of the internet and the blogosphere. We have already seen in Connecticut that Leftist bloggers were able to succeed in nominating a man who they saw as the perfect candidate in that State's Senate race. The Daily Kos has proven to all of us that the blogosphere can nominate a political candidate, and Thompson's inner circle may be hoping that the conservative blogosphere takes a leading role in Thompson's run for the Republican Presidential nod. What the Kos crowd could not do was elect Ned Lamont to the Senate, and in that effort they failed disastrously.

The blogosphere is a wonderful and influential organizing tool for the grassroots of both political parties, and its roll in our politics at the State and federal level will only increase with time. Whether one can win an election in the blogosphere is another matter. Winning will take more than a keyboard, but will take (to paraphrase Churchill) blood, toil, tears, and sweat.



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