Fred Thompson Drops Out, What Will Vicki McKenna Do?

What will Vicki McKenna do now? I kind of feel sorry for her.  Really.

She tried to convince herself, and her conservative listeners through the radio show she hosts in Madison on WIBA, that Fred Thompson could win South Carolina.  She reminded her fans that it was imperative for the sake of the GOP that Fred win the party’s nomination as he was the only real conservative in the race.  She even at one point said that her listeners could make phone calls from their Dane County homes to voters in the Palmetto State.  For the sake of their time and money I hope no one even considered the throw away suggestion.

It might be time to ask McKenna now how will anyone even recognize that Fred Thompson is no longer seeking the Republican  presidential nomination?  Never have I witnessed such high hopes for a candidate sizzle so completely, and all due to the extreme lackluster performance of the candidate himself.  In August 2007 my brother asked me who I thought would win the GOP nomination.  I said based on Thompson’s credentials, and conservative voting record, that he was the likely nominee given the other contenders and the amounts of money and support they had at that time.  But who would have predicted that Thompson would sleep his way through a bid for the White House?

Watching Fred Thompson these past months reminded me of the period in our history where it was unseemly to campaign openly for the White House.  Over these past months Thompson seemed to play a historical re-enactor of a time long gone in our political process.  It made him look witless and lazy.  Worse yet it made those who thought he might be serious to waste time and money.  It was stunning to see a candidate give so little regard to the grassroots support, such as McKenna’s, by failing to even pretend that he wanted the job.

I differ with McKenna on just about everything she ever talks about on her show.  But she deserved better from the candidate she supported and endorsed.  Fred Thompson was a political disappointment to his supporters, and an embarrassment for political junkies such as myself.

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Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson Ramp Up Rhetoric

Thoughtful and far-sighted are not terms that one can describe either Mike Huckabee or Fred Thompson following the Thursday night presidential debate.  In response to a question about the incident with Iran last weekend, it was obvious that neither of these boys high on testosterone should be given any real power.   Let us recall that the Gulf of Tonkin is widely held to be one of the greatest misuses of the US Navy in achieving foreign policy aims during the Vietnam era.

Asked whether the American commanders on the scene were right in not attacking the Iranian boats, Mr Huckabee said he backed their decisions, before warning Iran: “Be prepared, first, to put your sights on the American vessel. And then be prepared that the next thing you see will be the gates of Hell, because that is exactly what you will see after that.”

Fred Thompson, the former Tennessee senator and Law & Order star who is banking all on victory in South Carolina to revive his campaign, said of the Iranian boat crews: “I think one more step and they would have been introduced to those virgins that they’re looking forward to seeing.” The crowd cheered.

Would responsible candidates for the Oval Office talk in such a fashion?  It is pathetic to see the lengths that some will go to win the Republican nomination.  Shameful.

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The Way Election Returns Used To Be Watched

The 79-year-old man sitting alongside me on Tuesday night at our election gathering leaned over at one point as the returns for New Hampshire were coming in and said, “This is the way it used to be.”  Knowing what he meant I grinned, and told him I much agreed. 

There was a time before precision polling told us how we would vote before we ever cast a ballot, or exit polling had broken down the winners and losers along with the reasons why within minutes of a state closing their polls, that watching election returns after a hotly contested political battle was loads of fun.  People would speculate and wonder all through election day, but if was not until the balloting ended, and the slow counting process started, that any true sign of the end result would be known.  There was an air of mystery and tension that was great fun for the political junkie and average voter alike.

So it was remarkable political theater on Tuesday night when every poll prior to the New Hampshire primary, along with every exit poll conducted, and every campaign’s internal calculations were all turned upside down.  Every assumption of the brightest and most capable political reporter and pundit was wrong.  Every brave person who penned a prediction about the outcome, felt as inconsequential to the process as the top campaign manager for any top-tier candidate.  No one knew what would ultimately happen in the Democratic primary for several tense hours. 

It was as if we all stepped back in time for a bit.  I wonder how many thought about a time not so long ago when all elections were so marvelous to watch unfold? 

Even with the computer models of the areas in New Hampshire where votes had not yet been counted, there were still unknown possibilities that made the evening longer.  Even the political anchors of the all news channels were having nostalgic feelings of the energy and real excitement of how elections once were covered.  They were as anxious to know the outcome as the audience that was watching.  And no one knew anymore than the other for much of the evening.

After the winner was eventually announced, and the final speech was made, the pundits and reporters started a process that will take days to conclude.  Exactly what happened to the voters in the final 36 hours of the campaign, and what did the candidates do or say that produced such a stunning end to a hard fought primary?  I am as eager as any to better understand the answers.

But I will be among the first to say I am glad that whatever took place in the minds of the voters did happen.  And not for any political reason either.  I am glad that we all had a chance to sit and watch an election play out for a few hours with nothing to guide us but the actions of those who took the time to care enough to cast a ballot.  For a while every American was connected to the same incredible drama unfolding in the nation.  We do not have enough of those shared moments as a people. 

It might seem corny and old-fashioned, but is also felt good.  And it was fun!

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New Hampshire Primary Predictions…John McCain’s Mojo On The Move?

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I am not the only one who finds Mitt Romney a fraud and contrived in his race for the White House.  All of his fellow GOP presidential contenders feel the same way.  After the Saturday night debate on ABC it is clear how the folks who have had to compete with him feel.  OUCH!   The voters are also weighing in on the slickness and flip-flopping on every issue he talks about, and find there is no firewall that Romney has as his final set of principles.  His only position that does not change is his conviction about his Mormon faith, and that is not of interest to most Americans.  After all, the issue is not if Mitt Romney gets his own planet to rule after death, it is about who can govern best starting in 2009. 

John McCain has retooled his campaign after the summer of angst in 2007 that almost ended his final run for the White House.  But in the climate where the GOP search is on for a real possible winner for the Republicans in November 2008, the Arizona Republican is looking better and better.  The poll numbers for his efforts are paying off, and McCain’s mojo has returned.

On December 19, 2007 I wrote the following.

John McCain has one shot to reclaim his position in the GOP.  That is in New Hampshire.  If he can win a convincing number of voters to his campaign he can march onwards and still be the nominee in 2008.  I still think he has the greatest chance with the independents of New Hampshire even though they are very anti-war.

I think the huge question is which primary contest does the independent voters in New Hampshire take their votes.  If they find the Barack Obama race with Hillary Clinton more appealing McCain will suffer.  I think however there is plenty of independent support to lift McCain over the top.

Therefore I predict the final results for the New Hampshire Republican Primary.  I give only three percentages.

John McCain   36%

Mitt Romney 29%

Rudy Giuliani

Ron Paul  11%

Fred Thompson

Mike Huckabee

I think that Hillary Clinton shows some progress in her campaign style by starting to actually fight for the nomination.  No one wants to see a candidate take the primary process for granted, or have a candidate feel that the nomination is deserved.  So the steel that she demonstrated during the Saturday night debate is not all bad, in spite of what many pundits are saying.  But I feel that she is in trouble for being the insider candidate in a time when the public mood seems to be in favor of a total reversal of the Bush years.  Too many feel that she is more inclined to political deals than reversing the policies that need changing.  From a strategic point of view she has had no time to change tactics to the degree required after the Iowa caucuses in order to win in New Hampshire.  (I repeat from past posts that I still predict she wins the nomination.)

My bold prediction is that John Edwards makes a stronger showing than the polls show in New Hampshire.  Edwards had a dynamic and powerful debate performance on Saturday night.  While I do not think debates are that significant in general to a primary, there is such huge coverage and national interest that he gets extra mileage from it.   His grittiness will hit a mark in New Hampshire.  And he needs it.  If he does not come in second place I do not see how his campaign endures in a real way.

My predictions for the Democratic New Hampshire primary are as follows.  I give only two percentages.

Barack Obama  36%

John Edwards

Hillary Clinton

Bill Richardson 4%

Dennis Kucinich (gasp)

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Note To Fred Thompson: One Can’t Win If One Does Not Campaign

This is amazing.  GOP presidential contender Fred Thompson now admits he will not compete or campaign in New Hampshire. Is the man just lazy?  No one can can say with a straight face that Thompson is plotting any real way to win the nomination.  He is an embarrassment to all those who work hard on his behalf at campaigning and carrying his message about the future course of America. 

“You are absolutely right. We’re not competitive in New Hampshire. And we won’t be campaigning there other than to go in for the debates which are tomorrow night and Sunday night.”

Thompson says that he will fight for his first showing in South Carolina on January 19th.  But it seems that Huckabee will be showing more strength there himself with the southern mentality pouring out for his brand of theological politics.  Without a firewall from a mature Republican how does one stop Huckabee?  John McCain seems more important by the hour.

Rudy Giuliani will make Florida his first real contest, making no stand in New Hampshire.


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Iowa Caucus Predictions…Big Night For Fred Thompson?

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Predicting the winners of the Iowa caucuses is one of those blogging events that is just fun to do.  I say that because there is no real way to predict the outcome of a caucus when turnout is key to victory, and Democratic participants can be lured to another candidate if their first choice is not ‘viable’ in their local firehouse or neighbor’s living room.  There is no real way to gauge the mood of the actual caucus goers, and so one needs to rely on trends in the overall polling to even guess at the outcome.   Even then most will not write down any predictions.  Nonetheless I offer my predictions knowing that I have a real good chance of being so very wrong.  Unless an animal is found in bed with a presidential candidate between now and January 3rd, this is what I think will happen.

I start on the Republican side because I feel that this is where a potential news story that is not foreseen might happen on Thursday.  Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee have been blasting each other and proving many ways why they are not the type of nominee that the GOP will require to win in the November election.  Romney has flip-flopped on so many issues, and seems fake to many voters.  Huckabee has social conservatives energized but has turned off many fiscal conservatives with his actions while Governor of Arkansas.  The negative ads and talking points have been blazing, leaving I suspect many Republicans in Iowa concerned about the overall tone of the GOP message, and potential messenger.

While Rudy Giuliani and John McCain are on the ballot they are not seriously vying for voters in Iowa.  But Fred Thompson is.  While I have poked at the former Tennessee Senator here on my blog (he warranted it) I think that Thompson has a chance to make news. As a candidate with conservative credentials who can be viewed as a seasoned politician, I am going with my gut instinct and placing Thompson in second place to Mitt Romney.  If this happens the news story on Friday will be Fred….Fred….Fred.

The top three GOP finishers in Iowa

Mitt Romney

Fred Thompson

Mike Huckabee

On the Democratic side I am going to echo what my overall thoughts were on December 19th, on my blog.  While I think Hillary Clinton will eventually win the Democratic nomination I think she faces a dust-up in Iowa.  John Edwards has a message of corporate greed and economic concern will resonate with voters who have already fought for him once before on a cold winter night in 2004.  I also think that Edwards will do well after other candidates are no longer ‘viable’ at the caucus, and he will be many folk’s second choice.  Obama will suffer from too many fresh faces at the rallies, but not enough of them having the drive to get them to the caucuses.  Howard Dean repeated.

The top three Democrats in Iowa

John Edwards

Hillary Clinton

Barack Obama

To my friends that want percentages…..you must be kidding!!

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Fred Thompson “Not Interested In Running For President”

Fred Thompson was at one time the candidate that Republicans hoped would lead them to the Oval Office again.  But when Thompson hit the campaign trail he was no more exciting than a sparkler on July 4th.  For all the Hollywood hype, Thompson the presidential wannabe, turned out to be a dud.

Today, according to CNN the limp candidate confirmed what we already knew.

“I’m not particularly interested in running for president,” the former senator said at a campaign event in Burlington when challenged by a voter over his desire to be commander-in-chief.

The former actor has criticized his rivals for launching their presidential bids months ahead of his, and continually touts the fact he hasn’t harbored presidential ambitions his whole career.

“I am not consumed by personal ambition,” Thompson also said Saturday. “I’m offering myself up.”

“I’m only consumed by a few things and politics is not one of them.”

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The Presidential Campaigns In America Tonight

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There is an excitement in the air over the race for the White House that is much different than those of the past.  I do not recall in my lifetime the intensity and frantic nature that seems to grip these campaigns.  While there has always been plenty of hyper-activity on all sides every four years in these races, this year things are notched up higher.  Partly this is due to the open race for both political parties.  There is no clear heir for either the Republicans or the Democrats.  Add the fact that the first woman, black, or Mormon has a chance to be nominated in a very early and condensed nominating cycle, and one can understand the hectic nature of the closing weeks of 2007.

I am watching daily to see how the maneuvering and positioning of the various candidates stack up, knowing that all are mindful that January 3rd is approaching quickly.  So here is what I think of the candidates and races as of the time I write this post.  A day is a lifetime in politics, goes the saying.  Now an hour is a lifetime for the candidates.

I find Barack Obama a very intelligent and hopeful candidate.  I think he has really grown as a speaker and White House hopeful.  But I think he will face what so many ‘dream candidates’ eventually confront.  The youthful faces that talk of new beginnings in Washington have too few voters that slog through the snow to get to a caucus, or take time to vote in a primary.  The college faces that seem eager today find many things more important to do on primary day. And I fear that there is an ugly underlying layer of bigotry that will show itself sooner or later in the nominating process.  Let us not forget the hopeful polls of Tennessee U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr in 2006, and then the victory of his Republican opponent.  There is still much work to do in bridging the relations between the races in America.

Hillary Clinton has constructed a campaign that is mighty impressive.  From staffing to funds she is set for a national race.  She can place second in Iowa, and even do so again in New Hampshire (though I am not predicting that) and still win the nomination for all practical purposes on February 5th.  Though some of her campaign tactics are childlike and rather undignified (such as the kindergarten remark and drug charge remarks) she is placing herself in the middle of the national dialogue on the big issues that will suit her well should she win the nomination.  And I think she will ultimately prevail and be the nominee.   From here to November the biggest issue for her will be what to do about Bill Clinton.  I admire the man for his intelligence, but his ego needs an island to stay on for the next year.  I love to hear him talk on a typical day, but for Hillary’s sake would someone shut the man up!  His Charlie Rose interview was perplexing to say the least!

John Edwards has my vote and support.  He speaks what my heart says about our foreign policy, and the role of government in shaping a society that works for the greater good, as opposed to serving the rich and well to do.  I admire politicians who admit mistakes, and the vote he cast in favor of the Iraq War was a dreadful one.  But over the years he has addressed to my satisfaction his regret over the vote, and outlined a path to restoring a sound international policy.  While I think it possible Edwards can actually win in Iowa with the strong support of union members, I think he will do less well in New Hampshire at the hands of the independent voters.  Sadly, I do not think his campaign will last longer than the South Carolina primary.

Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are locked in a GOP duel that is bringing out the worst in both campaigns.  I find their races for president to be more a contest between who is the most religious, and closer to God.  That lack of respect for the separation of church and state troubles me.  And I strongly suspect that I am not alone.  It is because of this that Fred Thompson in Iowa has a fighting chance to make headlines on January 3rd.  Though he is a lackluster campaigner, the voters may want a mature face to counter the antics of the self-righteous ones.

John McCain has one shot to reclaim his position in the GOP.  That is in New Hampshire.  If he can win a convincing number of voters to his campaign he can march onwards and still be the nominee in 2008.  I still think he has the greatest chance with the independents of New Hampshire even though they are very anti-war.  They may hate the Iraq War, but I suspect they hate the religious war that some wage for the White House even more.  (However if Obama wins in Iowa the independents of the Granite State may wish to play a role in the Democratic contest, and that will hurt McCain’s chances in my estimation.)

When the story is written on Rudy Giuliani I think many will marvel at how he turned so many voters against him after having so many national advantages when he first announced for the White House.  He made some very serious errors in judgment, and failed to own up to them.  That lack of honesty with the voters will be seen as one of his major blunders.

And then there is Alan Keyes……..what a little twig.

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