Thursday, August 30, 2007

Game on! Sen. Thompson Finally Steps up to the Plate

NASHVILLE – For Democrats, Fred Thompson might just end up being be the man to beat. His "brand" is clear and uncomplicated. Whether you describe him as "Southern-Fried Reagan" or "Ben Cartwright," Sen. Thompson presents that patriarchal archetype that is foundational to American perceptions of the idyllic Republican candidate: conservative, plain-spoken, tough, and commanding. And a real contrast to the Democratic field.

While Guiliani and Romney compete with each other to wear the crown of "authentically conservative," Sen. Thompson simply strides to the podium and smiles. And it's a knowing smile, because Thompson understands that in the moral high ground of Republican Red America neither Guiliani nor Romney can match the "true authenticity" of his deep-timbered Southern drawl.

At the same time, Sen. Thompson's partisanship has, for decades, been tempered by a gentlemanly demeanor and a general willingness to "cross the aisle," when necessary. His is a career built on being "consumable" – firm, yet comforting. And "Southern-Fried Reagan" is the kind of comfort food that Red County America is craving in a time of tremendous social, economic, and moral insecurity.

Sen. Thompson's candidacy should make Democrats VERY concerned about who will best match the Republicans in both the presidential election – and in 2008's congressional races. Sen. Thompson could have VERY long coattails, particularly in places like Indiana, Ohio, Montana, and North Carolina, where Democratic success in 2006 came about, in part, by running candidates whose views, and "brands," ran far to the right of Blue State norms. For Democrats, Thompson's candidacy is a real wake-up call. He might not be the strongest Republican candidate in decades, but he's got a powerful persona, some serious height advantage, and the big dog swagger that consistently wins over the voters in Purple State America.

While it's true that Sen. Thompson has lost a little bit of ground since July, being late to the party didn't stop Reagan in 1980. That said, he's got to run hard – fast. Elections are won on the ground. If Sen. Thompson wants to win the presidency, he needs to win the Republican nomination and that means he'll need to a lot of dedicated supporters to pound the pavement from September 4 to February 5.

Game on.

1 comment:

Dan Dimendberg, Contributing Editor said...

I couldn't agree more.
Thompson provides additional problems for Democrats in that having been out of the Senate for several years, he is free of the stains of the Republican leadership and Bush Administrations failure over the past few years.
Additionally, he is palatable to southern conservatives seekign an alternative to Romney's Mormonism and Giuliani's social liberalism.
Assuming his fundraising effort can compete with those who have been at it for over a year, he can sweep up McCain's faltering support,, consolidate southern support, and leave Romney and Giuliani fighting over Moderate to conservative Northeastern and California Republicans.