I like Fred, actually quite a lot. He is clearly the most likable of the candidates — whether or not one supports him. If he had run a different race, he might well be the consensus candidate. Ditto, if we had preferential voting — he could win by being everyone’s second choice. But he did not, and we do not.
The reason he should get out of the race now is that it is time to narrow the field. As Kellyanne Conway said, each winner of a primary has gotten the support of only 1/3 of the GOP voters. That is not a great way to get to a nominee who will energize, or even unite, the party.
Fred Thompson, for all his virtues, is not going to be the nominee. Whenever he leaves the field, he is still in the running to be the vice president — which is not a small thing, and which is a position he is very well suited for, by temperament and talent. Because he is a universal conservative — he might compensate for the ideological deviations of McCain, Rudy or Mitt , on a ticket and, even more critically, in a cabinet meeting. His soothing tones might reach the Huckabee supporters, and even some of the Paul supporters –whose saner views he comes closest to sharing.
It is good enough to hammer out our differences on policy– but, I am not sure that these contests really do that. In the end people have to vote for very imperfect vehicles, and candidates are always happy to regard a vote as a vote for all that they stand for. So narrowing the field is a good thing.
As for Rudy — for whom I had such high hopes — we will know in 16 days what voters think.