“Team Fred felt real good last night,” Team Thompson’s Karen Hanretty tells me this morning.
I asked her if they all felt relief after the debate last night. She replied: “I think we had more a sense of relief after the first debate. This go ‘round there was more a feeling of real accomplishment.”
She recalled that on Saturday night she wrote up some thoughts to some of the Sunday shows talking themes going into the debate: “Fred is getting fired up; he’s gaining support among Christian conservatives; and GOP confidence in Rudy’s electability is slipping.”
Her evidence? “Fred’s rhetoric last week at NY Conservative Party, Club for Growth, Georgia presser, and Values Voters speech. At each event, he continued to warm up to drawing a stark contrast between his record and that of his opponents on conservative issues. I think last night’s debate was the strongest he’s been on telling people who he is, what he believes and how it’s different from Mitt and Rudy. That was a real accomplishment.”
The CBS poll that shows Christian support increasing for Fred is important, as you know. And Rasmussen’s poll indicating that Rudy is losing confidence that he’s the guy who can win next November is also important. The GOP wants electability, and the MSM continues to write that only a liberal Republican can beat a (now) moderate Democrat. Hillary is going to run as a moderate. I just don’t think there’s much daylight between her and Rudy.
And Thompson isn’t pulling a disappearing act this time. Hanretty points out that Thompson will be working in Florida today and tomorrow; South Carolina Wednesday; he will be in Iowa Saturday.
She adds: “I was thinking about the 1999 debates and how much I enjoyed watching Alan Keyes and John McCain. They were both so good — especially Keyes. But no way was I going to vote for him. It’s the same today. Voters aren’t going to go the ballot box based on debate performances. I don’t know that Fred will win a debate, it’s not his format. But he did really well last night.”
She points to an ABCNews headline, which she says “surprisingly…sums up what last night’s debate was really about”: “Florida Debate Centers on Direction of GOP and Hillary Clinton.”
In the Team Thompson view of it: “While the MSM, who are mostly registered Democrats, framed last night’s debate as a fiery exchange of jabs between candidates, what was really taking place is a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. “
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that there are two very divergent paths the Republican Party will take next year, depending on who our nominee is. If it’s Fred, the Party goes back to its small government conservative roots. If it’s Rudy or Mitt, we’ll have a nominee who actively worked against the values of the GOP and who engaged in policies that are offensive to the foot soldiers in the conservative movement.
Sheesh. Sure hope Fred doesn’t have to support Rudy or Mitt one day! His team, clearly has no intention on letting that happen.