The Campaign Spot

Continuing the Thompson Postmortems…

Patrick Ruffini has a typically insightful examination of the rise and fall of the Thompson campaign. I note that some of the campaign professionals’ analysis overlaps a bit with my “he should have punched more hippies” quick take – that the guy who did the video response to Michael Moore never appeared in this campaign; he was replaced by a paler, less vigorous, less forceful guy.
I particularly liked this observation by Ruffini:

In this era of authenticity, communications and strategy people need to be prepared to sell the candidate as he actually is, no matter what that might be. If the goal was to showcase Thompson as substantive, then the remedy was to do two and three hour long town hall meetings. Instead, we had perfunctory campaigning that fatally undercut the substance argument.

A couple of other thoughts – during the revolving door staff changes of the summer, we were told this was par for the course for a campaign, and normal for one that had to make up ground quickly. Obviously, that wasn’t the case, and it appeared to reflect the conflict between the dramatically different, new-media-focused style of Thompson’s initial helpers and the more traditional approach of the Dole 1996 veterans.
Another lesson from Fred: The state primary schedule may look quite different next year, but if the state order is about the same in 2012, I think this is the last time any major candidate doesn’t try to make a major push in either Iowa or New Hampshire. Fred’s push in Iowa came a little too late, and in retrospect, New Hampshire Republicans never forgave him for skipping their debate to appear on Leno. Thompson needed to pass 13 percent in one of the early states to get out of also-ran status…
… How little an impact did Thompson have on the dynamics of this race? He never represented enough of a threat to any other candidate to be the subject of an attack ad, to the best of my recollection… (Huckabee did run the push-polls against him.)
I am supremely skeptical of the story from Carl Cameron that Thompson was only interested in the vice presidency. First, I have a hard time picturing anyone wanting the job of the vice presidency enough to ”campaign” for it, but not being interested in the presidency. If you really want to, the State Department can probably arrage for you to attend the funerals of foreign heads of state on your own.
Secondly, everyone around Thompson was working to make him the next president, not the next vice president. It would be an uncharacteristic abuse of others’ trust and hard work if Thompson had secretly not wanted to pursue the presidency.
Finally, I have no idea how this post got construed as “gloating” and ”ridiculing” the Fredheads; I genuinely don’t like giving bad news, or ironic news of a potential victory slipping away, to a bunch of folks dealing with a disappointing end to their favorite candidate’s campaign. I think the Fred fans are looking for someone to blame, and lashing out at anybody within reach.

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