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Fred Thompson's greatest challenge

By Christopher G. Adamo
web posted July 2, 2007

Former Senator Fred Thompson, as yet a non-declared candidate for President, has just surpassed Rudy Giuliani in the Rasmussen poll. Grassroots conservatives, though jubilant, are not surprised. He consistently shows himself to be of the stuff America wants, and which more importantly, it needs.

But as predictable as is Thompson's success, given his approach to presidential campaigning, so is the growing profusion of "conventional wisdom" being offered to him from those supposed allies whose efforts have not been nearly as successful.

Thus far, he has not spent an exorbitant amount of money on his presidential bid. Rather, he continues to bring to this otherwise predictable campaign a refreshing element of directness not seen within the GOP in many years.

Some are attempting to minimize his current success by claiming that he is only shining brightly because he is not yet officially in the race. Others attribute it to his being an actor, and thus a "great communicator." But neither supposition accurately explains the Thompson phenomenon.

The nature of the public limelight and accompanying scrutiny since the advent of the alternative media is such that the actual announcement is merely a formality required for the legal record. Thompson has had every opportunity to rise or fall on the merits of his statements and his beliefs. And this component of his campaigning will not significantly change once he becomes official.

Fred ThompsonAs to being a "great communicator," such comparisons to Ronald Reagan by his opposition result from their efforts not to extol, but to demean him on that basis. Among Reagan's detractors, those who characterized him in that manner were attempting to make the case that he could put a good face on a bad message. Yet in reality, it was the message itself that connected with the American people.

The triumphs of Ronald Reagan, like the fortunes of every other Republican nominee and president during the past four decades, can be directly correlated to their degree of devotion to conservatism, or at least the public perception of such. To the dismay of "moderates," this year is shaping up to be no different.

Likewise, Fred Thompson's success derives from the very blunt, commonsensical manner in which he states position after position, which is invariably in tune with the American people. His actions should not be confused with the sort of populism and pandering that has characterized so much of the remaining field of candidates.

Thompson exudes an understanding of the issues of the day, rooted in principles that have long driven and defined America. Such views have been largely disparaged by the political elites and Beltway insiders who are more fixated on the opinions expressed on the nightly news or among the pop culture than any wisdom emanating from the Heartland.

So despite the money being spent by the other candidates, and their incessant attempts to find and monopolize the spotlight, Thompson's momentum continues to grow. And he can count on more of the same, just as long as he continues to deliver that which has served him so well to this point.

Not surprisingly, many observers are now offering free "advice," based on the standard political models, which may or may not have worked in the past. One increasingly common refrain has to do with the supposed benefits of choosing Rudy Giuliani as a running mate, based on the premise that such a choice might garner the large cadre of electoral votes from the State of New York.

But even if this race did not involve another prominent "New Yorker" in the person of Hillary Clinton (and possibly even a third if Michael Bloomberg enters), the notion of increasing one's popularity on the basis of a vice-presidential pick has, at best, a dubious track record of actually gaining any points with the electorate.

Moreover, to choose a candidate who is starkly at odds with everything that to date has defined Thompson and caused him to be so successful makes no sense at all.

It would be thoroughly refreshing to hear Thompson respond to this, or similar suggestions of somehow posturing to the "center," by reminding everyone that the real purpose of the Vice-Presidency is not to "broaden the base," bring diversity to an administration or garner otherwise elusive electoral votes.

Rather, it is to ensure a suitable replacement in the event that the President cannot fulfill his term. Thus, if Thompson's governing philosophy is in the best interests of the nation and he wants it to remain intact in his absence, he will pick a running mate who embodies the same principles for which the public has enthusiastically embraced him.

Time and again, Republicans have witnessed the abject futility of attempting to "moderate" in this manner. Democrat voters need not consider accepting a poor imitation of liberalism from the GOP when they can find the real thing in their own camp. Reagan Democrats and crossover voters in general must therefore be inspired by something higher, not merely cheaper, than that which their own party has to offer.

Admittedly, many on the right are biting their nails in anticipation of his official announcement. By now they have learned however, that he is moving forward according to a well-constructed strategy. And contrary to the wishes of his opposition, the event will not represent the high-water mark of his quest for the White House, but instead, the turning point of the '08 presidential race.

Meanwhile, the greatest challenge Thompson faces (and it may not be a difficult one for him) is simply to remain true to the conservative principles which he has consistently presented as sincere and heartfelt. He is not prone to backtracking or apologizing, and need not do so now.

As the other candidates bob and weave, attempting to capture the allegiance of one constituency group without alienating another, Fred Thompson only needs to keep being Fred Thompson. ESR

Christopher G. Adamo is a freelance writer and staff writer for the New Media Alliance. He lives in southeastern Wyoming. He has been active in local and state politics for many years. His contact information and archives can be found at www.chrisadamo.com.

 

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