COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson didn't drop out of the Republican presidential field after his disappointing finish in Saturday's South Carolina primary — but he sounded close to it.
About an hour after the polls closed, Thompson addressed a ballroom in a college student union, an event that featured as many students enjoying free beer as it did hardcore Thompson supporters. He delivered a lengthy soliloquy, speaking in the past tense about "clear conservatism," the cornerstone of his campaign.
A surefire way to draw a crowd to your event is to stage it in a student union and offer free beer (and excuse me, but what university in South Carolina doesn’t have a no-alcohol rule?). Reminds me of the college rock band that named itself “Free Beer” to draw bigger crowds.
Anyway, despite what the campaign says, the folks at RedState have stuck a fork in Fred:
Though South Carolina may not even be the official final nail in the coffin of your candidacy, for those who took the realistic view -- unencumbered by their support of your bid for office -- the proverbial handwriting had long since been on the wall. After the third-place Iowa finish, there still may have been hope, even though your assured place among the frontrunners had been taken by another out-of-nowhere candidate, Mike Huckabee. However, after the abysmal performances in New Hampshire and Wyoming -- not to mention Michigan and, today, Nevada -- it became abundantly clear that any talk of Fred Thompson, Republican Nominee for President was, at best, a non-starter.
So, as the results come back in South Carolina, with exit polls showing it a McCain-Huckabee race with Thompson a nonfactor, it seems to be as good a time as any to thank you profusely for your time and for your ideas, to wish you luck in all of your future endeavors, and to turn out the lights once and for all on the Fred Thompson for President experiment.
Sorry, Tennessee Republicans. I know this is a huge disappointment to you. The folks at RedState blame the candidate himself:
Unfortunately, the campaign itself never came together. Despite the fact that it was built around the people's chosen White Knight candidate, and around the most solid slate of conservative ideas in the race, the Fred Thompson for President campaign suffered from being one of the most lackluster, disorganized, and uninspired electoral efforts that I can remember. For whatever reason, you as the candidate never quite took the ownership of your own campaign that was necessary to make it successful -- and, as a result, it foundered before ever really getting out of the harbor.
Indeed, this was the huge flaw in the Fred Thompson candidacy that gave liberals so much comedy gold from the beginning. Folks, when picking future GOP stars, make sure the candidate likes politics. Everyone knows Fred Thompson hates politics and hates campaigning--he’s made no secret of that since he was a Senator--and yet, for some reason felt he should be anointed POTUS anyway. You have to work for these things, Senator. No one hands you the reins of power on a silver platter.
Just as you can’t expect someone who doesn’t believe in government to govern well, you can’t expect someone who doesn’t like politics to run an effective campaign.
Anyway, I’m sure a lot of Tennessee conservatives are in mourning today, possibly even deep denial. As I posted last week, it's hard out there for a Fred Thompson supporter.
Sorry, folks. It's over. Stick a fork in him, he's done.
(For more on this, read Newscoma's excellent post.)