It's time to really want itThose who read my work regularly can vouch for the fact that I don't always write about what is comfortable. There are times that I am forced to discuss things that I would rather not, and confront the hard truth in regards to people and causes that I really believe in. I noticed this comment posted at The Tennessean's forum in regards to Fred Thompson's presidential campaign on Friday:
Fred Thompson is the only real logical choice for the Republican party, he is the only candidate in either field with common sense, and a no nonsense mentality. Fred has got to hit the campaign trail hard though if we really wants to win. Listen to his views, ideas, and where he stands on the issues, that is enough to win most people over.
Truer words were never spoken-on both counts. Clearly this commenter believes in Fred Thompson in the same way that a lot of us do. We want to see the man who energized Tennesseans over two Senate campaigns and served in the U.S. Senate with great distinction. Most importantly, the voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina want to see the barnstorming Fred-the Fred that can woo a crowd with his homespun way of speaking and could charm a snake to death. Fred's message is right, but it just isn't getting out to many voters in early Primary States in the way that it needs to. The Iowa Caucus is six weeks away, and New Hampshire will vote the following week. We are no longer awaiting a presidential election cycle, that campaign is well underway. It is game on-right now.
How do we know that the message isn't clicking? The latest CNN/WMUR poll of New Hampshire Republicans shows Fred in sixth, with both Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee leading him. This is not a place where a man considered to be one of the frontrunners for the GOP nomination should be. He's down to fifth place in Florida with eight percent of the vote (six months ago, he was in second and hadn't even declared). The Florida Primary takes place right after South Carolina, so if Fred is running that low in Florida, the momentum from a South Carolina victory must be what convinces Republicans in Florida that Fred can get nominated.
South Carolina is the great Southern bellwether. The first State to secede is rightly the first in the South to hold a Primary. A victory there could save a campaign heading into Super Tuesday, and several campaigns have all but admitted that it will make them or break them. Yet in South Carolina, the State where Fred Thompson once held the lead, the aggregate of polls now shows him second behind Rudy Giuliani. Victory is still attainable for Fred in South Carolina, but to get there he must do something more beyond raising money.
Fred Thompson must do more than run television ads, he must get out and spend extended amounts of time in the early States. People in those places have grown accustomed to seeing the candidates, as well they should. It is a privilege more Americans would enjoy were it not for our insanely packed 2008 Primary schedule-but that schedule is what it is. That means that the States of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida will set the pace. If Fred Thompson is well behind in Florida, he must win South Carolina to save his campaign. To do that, he must do better-than-expected in Iowa and New Hampshire. In short, he has to show up there and spend some serious time with the folks.
To be elected President in our day and age, at some level you have to want to be President, or at least want to serve. It is wonderful to have the notion that someone would give of themselves without really wanting something in the mere name of service. Yes, a person should be in public life for the mere sake of service-but the Presidency is a bit different. There is so much responsibility and so much effort involved in running for President, let alone serving in the office, that at some level you have to want it the way your supporters do.
I have said it before and I will say it again: Fred Thompson can be the Republican nominee. To achieve that milestone, he needs to clearly express to voters in early Primary States that he wants to be President of the United States, why he wants it, and why they should choose him and not the other candidates who want it. Further, he needs to go to those people personally over and over and over again and preach truth to power.
Fred's campaign is lagging and it shouldn't be. Rather than make excuses and try and explain it away, Fred Thompson needs to turn himself loose and give the people of Iowa and New Hampshire "Fred Unplugged." They need to see the homespun Fred the liberals love to hate. If that Fred comes to the podium (and does so often) then this campaign can indeed turn around.
Labels: Presidential Election