The Corner

Fred Thompson: Do I Really Have to be Here?

I was tooling around Iowa the last two days, but haven’t had time to post until now, when I’m back in the office.  Yesterday, I was at a Thompson event at a restaurant in Ames where he gave the impression–at least to me–of wanting to be somewhere, anywhere, else. After he had made remarks and taken a few questions, he slipped out the back of the restaurant without shaking hardly any hands. Fine, maybe he was in a rush to get somewhere else. But then a little while later, when most people had left, he came back for a press availability with reporters. It seemed as if he had snuck out explicitly to avoid interacting with people. He answered–with an air of barely tolerating the indignity of it–a few horserace questions from reporters, then shot out the back of the room again. He was generally well-received by the small group (50? 75? I’m not good with crowd estimates) of Iowans who had gathered to see him, but if Fred does well here, it will despite a notable lack of enthusiasm for campaigning. I thought his performance was sort of somnolent–one man looked to be nodding off in a corner–but a friend who has seen him at other events thought he was more passionate than usual. We’ll see what happens on Thursday, but the event certainly didn’t have the feel of a surging candidate.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

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