GOP Presidential candidate Fred Thompson appeared on Fox News Sunday today, displaying his depth on foreign relations issues, his media savvy, and why he is moving steadily upward in the polls with the Iowa caucus only days away.
Meanwhile, embattled GOP candidate Mitt Romney, who was considered the strongest contender to New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the summer, has launched a series of attack ads against Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in Iowa, and Arizona Sen. John McCain in New Hampshire in what some are saying is a desperate attempt to stay in the race.
Huckabee and McCain are fighting back, as they must, but this last minute flurry of punches could well work in Thompson's favor as he sits in third-place or thereabout depending on which poll you choose.
Thompson has been roundly criticized in the media for not entering the fray earlier, and for not making a big splash when he did formally declare. It should be noted that the media which is criticizing Thompson is the same media that decides whether or nor a candidate has made a "splash" - contingent entirely upon the level of play the media gives to the story.
Thompson has been slammed by the media because he isn't playing by the media's rules. Yet for all the criticism, Thompson is moving steadily upward. The truth is, Thompson is simply walking a different path to the same goal, and it may be a better route.
As he pointed out in his interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, he has saved millions of dollars that literally would have been thrown away, by not getting into the race too early and wasting precious resources at a time when the vast majority of voters aren't paying attention.
There is no question that the GOP race is still wide open, and virtually anything can happen, primarily because we have a really good slate of candidates and voters are having a hard time making up their minds on which candidate they like best. That is a good thing, and the race is by no means decided, nor is it likely to be in the next week or two.
While the front runners are beating up on each other, Thompson used his FNS appearance to press home his strengths.
Wallace opened his segment by showing a quote from an Iowa newspaper that portrayed Thompson as lacking energy and enthusiasm. Thompson, who made big time points when he refused to be cowed by the moderator in a debate sponsored by the Des Moines Register early this month, responded that the quote amounted to "journalistic malpractice."
Thompson explained that he contended in a lengthy interview that he doesn't believe in turning the presidency into a cauldron of non-stop politicking when there are so many more important issues with which the president must deal. The newspaper "cherry picked" his quotes and portrayed his position in a manner totally inconsistent with what he believes and what he said, Thompson maintained.
Good for Thompson.
There is a tenet in public relations and political circles that you never argue with the media, not matter how badly they have misquoted you. I don't agree.
If the media is being partisan, and unprofessional, I believe you should grab the offender straight on and demand a correction. If the media outlet refuses to correct its mistakes, take out an ad pointing out the discrepancy, the refusal to tell the truth, and let the voters see what you really said. I also believe in bringing your own tape recorder or video camera to any interview so you have your own evidence of what was said.
The media is not sacrosanct and it is long past time to be treating irresponsible and unprofessional reporters as saints who can't be questioned or challenged.
Isn't it just a bit odd, that so many of us complain about "politics as usual," but when a viable candidate appears who has the confidence in his own abilities and his own approach, he is badgered for not staying inside the box?
With the GOP front runners smacking each other in a bare-fisted brawl, Thompson's easy going demeanor and command of the issues is starting to look pretty good. Maybe he isn't a media darling, but so what, most Americans don't trust the media anyway.
There are many ways to get around the media in today's age of high tech communications and the inescapable truth about Thompson is that when voters listen to him he makes sense. He has some marketable successes and experiences, but he isn't viewed as a Washington insider at the same level as McCain.
He might not be as flashy as Giuliani, but New York's former mayor who was all but anointed as the consensus (media) candidate earlier this year, is having a very hard time standing up to scrutiny of his actions in the Big Apple.
Romney is certainly an attractive candidate, but he seems to have some sort of impenetrable shield around him, as if he is just too perfect, and thus unapproachable. He seems to lack the personal touch, at least in his media appearances, and this can hurt him, especially as he descends into negative campaigning and mud slinging.
Huckabee's recent gaffes on the slaying of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan last week certainly aren't helping him.
Thompson's quiet, direct style of delivery is obviously having an impact. It may well be that America has seen enough of people who look good on camera but lack substance.
It is worth asking ourselves whether we want a man in the White House who is steady, calm, knowledgeable and won't fly off the handle in a crisis, or one who will rely on knee jerk reactions that could make a bad situation worse?
As an actor Thompson can stand in front of a camera with total ease. He showed again today that he has an excellent command of the issues, substantial experience in foreign affairs, and yet he didn't shy away from acknowledging that McCain is more experienced in that area. He simply added that he and McCain have disagreed on domestic issues, such as immigration where Thompson is strong.
On the Democratic side the top three contenders are slugging it out all the way to the voting booths. But the Democratic agenda is driven nearly entirely by out-of-control anti-war sentiments, a Hate Bush agenda, and an inability to translate this agenda to voter support in the wider world of independents and undecideds.
In the final analysis, neither Iowa nor New Hampshire, which holds its primary five days after the Iowa caucus, will send that many delegates to the national conventions. The bigger prizes are coming later on in the process, especially on Super Tuesday in February.
All the hoopla over the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary could end up being just that - hoopla. Thompson is surging, the front runners are beginning to look a bit ragged from all the fighting, and the real test of survivability could yet be several weeks away.
Sunday, December 30, 2007