Weekly Presidential Politics - 8/1/07
The ’07 Seven Candidates of Summer Series
What I wrote on the 7th of June this year: "He has conservatives abuzz as possibly the first viable true conservative. Until he gets in the race, however, I don't it can be argued that he's viable or a true conservative. Still, the mere fact that a candidate potentially fits the bill goes to show you how desperate the GOP is for that candidate."
This has never been more true. The Republican primary is a mess. The two top contenders, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, are a Mormon and a social liberal, respectively. The previous frontrunner, John McCain, reported less money than second-tier-at-best Ron Paul in the second fiscal quarter. True conservatives and religious beloveds, Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee, rarely register in Republican polls and have serious problems fundraising with the big boys.
Simply, there is a vacuum of power in the Republican primary. The potential to fill that vacuum remains. Two Republicans have the ability to fill that void: Newt Gingrich and Fred Thomson. The former may not run, while the latter is about a month away from announcing, therefore it is the latter that has the most potential to be a player in this race.
What makes the Thomson candidacy very interesting is that he's doing great in the polls without even being an official candidate yet! For example, in the latest Rasmussen Poll, taken during the week of July 22, Fred Thomson was tied with Rudy Giuliani in first place in national Republican polls with 25%. Other polls consistently have Thomson polling in the top 3 both in national polls and in all-important primary states Iowa and South Carolina. And Thomson hasn't even started spending money yet!
His success before he even gets started is a direct result of the two factors already discussed: the displeasure of most Republicans with their leading candidates and Thompson's potential to be a true conservative. Therefore, before Thompson enters the race, because Thompson hasn't entered the race, he is still the conservatives' dream candidate. There is nothing wrong with him like all the other candidates.
See, Thompson is too good to be true for the GOP, I promise you. As soon as this guy gets into the frey, his weaknesses will show, most specifically his role as conservative savior of the 2008 Republicans. Frankly, that just can't be his role to claim. For proof, here's Newsweek, the Washington Times, and a stinging editorial from a conservative author.
So while Thompson looks golden from afar, it's not until the Republican voters see him up close that they realize the 64-year-old (65 in two weeks) actor-turned-Senator-turned-actor actually has some blemishes on that balding head of his. (And yes, that was a blatant reminder that he's pretty old. Just imagine when he has to start debating Mitt Romney. Can you say Nixon-Kennedy 1960?)
Yes, right now, Fred Thompson looks golden to the GOP, and many believe that there is no more accurate application of the term "fool's gold."