Skip to comments.Analysis: Fred Thompson now racing clock
Posted on 08/31/2007 5:41:48 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Fred Thompson has been acting like he has all the time in the world to get his campaign going, with his aides and advisers saying they wanted to get a first-class organization humming before the Law & Order actor steps out for his close-up.
One adviser, seeking to calm down an excitable reporter, even pointed out that there will be two World Series before the 2008 election.
But in fact Thompson who plans to travel the country with his family in a luxury bus emblazoned with the words Security, Unity, Prosperity -- is in a race against time that even some of his core advisers admit he has a chance of losing.
Thompson had raised only a moderate amount of money below his advisers expectations when he finally filed his first financial statement with the Internal Revenue Service at the end of July.
The excuse was that donors were staying on the sidelines till he made it official.
Now Thompson needs the cash spigot to begin gushing as soon as he appears Thursday at Des Moines Polk County Convention Center. He needs to swiftly validate the premise of his campaign, which is that theres pent-up demand among Republican donors and activists for some alternative to Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani.
So Thompsons deadline is not Election Day 2008, or even the January nominating contests.
The make-or-break date for his campaign is Sept. 30 the Federal Election Commission cut-off for the next financial report. That document, which must be filed by Oct. 15, will determine Thompsons fate. If he looks weak, he is unlikely to get the money, endorsements and grass-roots support that hell need to pull off his Houdini act, insiders say.
It amounts to a three-week, do-or-die sprint, and even Thompson does not claim to be a sprinter.
Critics in both parties had suggested that Thompson might try to game the system by not formally launching till Oct. 1 in order to avoid the third-quarter disclosure requirement.
But a Thompson official tells Politico: The Thompson committee will file a disclosure report with the FEC on Oct. 15 covering all money raised and spent through Sept. 30.
Thompsons challenge is all the greater because hes dallied for so long that he wont get a honeymoon.
His advisers are convinced the press will unleash a blizzard of skeptical and hostile coverage to punish him for taking a nontraditional route to his candidacy.
People close to the campaign say a critical question is whether it was really necessary to begin campaigning two years before the election.
Look, history could be written, and we got in too late, said one close Thompson adviser. Were prepared for that. Or history could be written and we blew the whistle on this two-year project, and we can do it shorter and faster, and be the guys that end this madness.
Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), who was among the leaders in the House to push Thompson into the race, said Thompson's announcement of an announcement Thursday will provide a needed spark.
"It allows us to go ahead and firm up all these commitments from people who have said, 'If he runs I'm with him,'" Wamp said in a telephone interview from Tennessee after getting off a conference call with Thompson supporters on Thursday.
Wamp, who took a turn firing up supporters on the call, dismissed questions that Thompson's wait had harmed his prospects, but acknowledged that some Republicans had held back this summer.
"[The delay] caused certain people in grass roots and fundraising to say, 'I want a commitment,'" he said. "Well, now a commitment has taken place."
The pressure's on
Still, Thompsons late money start, and his seeming acknowledgment in an interview with Politico.com last weekend that his summer cash haul had been disappointing, puts intense pressure on him to shake the money tree ferociously in September.
Thompson will hold a fundraiser in Chattanooga on Sept. 10, but other events are in the early states have yet to materialize. Thompson wont raise cash in Iowa and the chairmen of the New Hampshire and South Carolina GOP said they had yet to hear any word about fundraising in their states.
Thompson is still interviewing consultants and aides and does not yet have a fundraising infrastructure in the early primary states.
There is nobody here to do it, said South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson. And a good fundraiser will cost you 10 grand a month.
Thompsons need to ramp up his money machine is urgent, Dawson said. When you come in with $3.5 million, youve opened yourself up to get pounded, he observed, referring to the amount of money Thompson raised in June.
But Dawson emphasized that Palmetto State GOP voters were still undecided on a presidential pick.
Hillary just scares the hell out of them down here. Who can beat her is the question I get asked at every gas pump. Who can throw the Hail Mary and wield the veto pen.
Thompson will underscore his independence from the rest of the field by appearing next Wednesday on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on the same night that the other GOP candidates are appearing on a Fox News debate moderated by Chris Wallace in New Hampshire.
On a conference call for reporters yesterday, Thompson political director Randy Enwright sketched the rest of the roll-out plans, which include a grass-roots-oriented tour that will go to Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina.
There will be a second tour that will be the tail end of next week, the 13th through the 15th. Well spend several days in Florida and end up in Tennessee for a welcome home party for the senator in his hometown of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., on the 15th.
Jim Mills, the spokesman for Friends of Fred Thompson, said the organization has great confidence that once the American people truly get to know Fred Thompson, they will be quite impressed with his life story and his intellect and his passion, and his seriousness for solving some of the big problems.
This is a mature adult who has a sense of humor and can be self-effacing and truly loves to mix it up with real people, Mills said. Fred Thompson is going to surprise some people how engaged he is on some very serious issues.
How about he just runs, and state what he means?
He’s been doing that! Check ImWithFred.com or YouTube!
I know you can read. And I know that you saw the announcement that he will announce next week. So, what’s the point of your comment? I guess you just like to gripe. People really admire gripers.
Blind obedience. He must be good...
His advisors are kidding themselves if they attribute the inevitable negative press to the nature of his campaign.
The press has only one true motive for trashing him. He's a Republican.
I don’t know just how much I like Thompson and just how much I don’t like him (I mean for the office, not personally). He wouldn’t select me as a personal adviser anyway. But all this stuff about his TIMING is ridiculous.
What happened to the Sept. 4 announcement? That he now will have a spokesman from his campaign announce Sept. 6, the day AFTER the next Republican debate, after he wrote a letter asking to be included leaves a question or two out hanging out there. Did they turn him down, or did he decide not to put himself to the trouble?
When "the others" include the primary states, yes it does.
I sincerely believe Fred Thompson would lose a general election against the democrats. Of course, I could be wrong and Mr. Thompson could enter the race firing on all eight cylinders and demonstrate he has energy, depth of character, command of the issues, sense of purpose, sound judgment, organizational skills and most important, a vision for America that would bring us back to conservative, constitutional governance.
So far, he has shown none of it.
Why do you need to infer anything? He says that he’s announcing next week. Get it? You shouldn’t need to infer anything, unless you just need to conjure something up to make yourself feel better about your own agenda— whatever or whoever that is.
I like the guy. I don’t generally like lobbyists.
I believe no one should donate a penny more until the moment of his actual announcement. Then, lay it on fat and thick.
That’s my plan.
I'll believe it when I see it.
Seems like a fair plan.
I think Fred let a lot of that magic stuff called momentum get away from him.
He had a ground swell that was crazy about him a few months back, and I think he frittered it away.
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