I read where Fred Thompson finally went public to explain the crater in his front yard that marked the end of his 2008 Presidential campaign. A really sad thing, since Fred got within 1,191 delegates of winning the nomination. Who can forget Thompson’s impressive win in the … oh yeah, he didn’t win any of the primaries. Well, it’s not as if Fred wasn’t right there at the start … well OK, he didn’t officially announce until September, but he jumped right into the debate … although he missed the PBS debate on September 27th, and took a beating from the other candidates who showed up. No matter, Fred was off and running and nothing could stop him – except, well, finishing third in South Carolina (finishing no better than 3rd in any of the five primaries he entered) and quitting the race in January 2008. In February Fred Thompson endorsed John McCain. And folks, there’s no way around that – if you are endorsing McCain, you’ve just plain quit.
Look, I love many of the things Fred has said and done, and I think he had flashes of brilliance and potential. But we have to face the fact that Fred was not prepared for the campaign, in any real sense, and he made a lot of mistakes that crippled him from the start he did make. Winning the White House is not something that will happen just because the current President is incompetent and lazy. The republican nominee will have to be tough, smart, and thoroughly prepared. Having good ideas and a plan for how you will govern once you win, has nothing to do with getting on the general election ticket, much less winning the public’s trust. I actually voted for Fred in the Texas primary, since his name was still on the ballot, but I can’t pretend he didn’t quit when things got really tough. And anyone thinking about running this time, had better be 100% committed to the whole marathon, not just figuring they will take the lead and make it a parade to the White House.
If the republicans really want a winner next year, they need to go back to the basics. On the one hand, that means getting a southern governor to run, because historically those candidates do well (W, Clinton, Reagan, Carter were all successful governors from states in the southern half of the US) and governors have personal experience with things blowing up at the worst moment, and they always have plans on how to deal with it. But it also means finding someone who is not only clear on the issues, but a genuine fighter on the hot points. I think we can spot the early indicators:
IF a republican candidate makes it clear to the people that high gas prices are directly due to Obama’s policies (drilling bans, political warfare against energy companies, etc.), and hammers that message home over and over and over, that candidate will get significant support from the average voter;
IF a republican candidate makes it clear that America will support the overthrow of dictators, but not attacks on innocent civilians, and demands that Obama explain why he won’t support Syrian protesters but will praise Hezbollah, and hammers that point home as well, that candidate will get significant support from the average voter;
IF a republican candidate makes it clear that imposing new taxes and burdens like Obamacare on ordinary people while unemployment is still high is unacceptable, and hammers that message home over and over again, that candidate will get significant support from the average voter.
If that candidate will do those things, THEN and ONLY then will he get the chance to lay out his plan for fixing the mess we’re in.