Posted: January 19, 2008 6:44 PM
Thompson's Plans May Rest on South Carolina Outcome
As rival GOP candidates tout their ability to bring change to Washington, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson’s slow and steady campaign technique centers around his belief in the current Republican Party.
At a campaign event in Greenville, S.C., Thompson expressed a message “directed to the debate going on inside the Republican party these days,” the National Review reported. “And the message was: Don’t listen to those people who say the party has to change. Stick to the conservative principles that got us here.”
“We’re having a little discussion in the party nowadays about what that means for the future,” Thompson said. “Some people think we need to get away from the Reagan coalition, because it doesn’t exist anymore. Some people seem to think that we need to be a little bit more what they called progressive … Well, I reject that concept with every fiber of my being.”
Thompson’s pursuit of the White House, however, may be dependent on his performance in Saturday’s South Carolina vote.
The former senator, who is currently polling behind Sen. John McCain of Arizona, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, said he plans to head to Florida to campaign for the next Republican contest if the does well in South Carolina.
“We’ll see how we have to do, we’ll see what the results are,” Thompson said, according to Politico.com. “I’ve always said I have to do very well here; there’s no question about that. I stand by that.”
Thompson hasn’t always polled so poorly in the southern state. When he first entered the race, the Tennessee senator was touted as southern conservatives’ answer to the broad Republican field.
“Many saw him as a charismatic Reaganesque figure with strong name recognition and sterling credentials to appeal to the social, economic and defense conservatives who formed the Reagan coalition,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
Some feel Thompson’s decline in popularity in the Palmetto State can be attributed to his late entry in the Republican race and the unexpected surge in popularity for Huckabee.
“For evangelicals, who make up more than half the GOP primary voters, Huckabee, who speaks frequently of his faith … made an easier fit than Thompson, who has said he is less comfortable talking about it,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
A disappointing performance in South Carolina will be very telling for Thompson’s long-term viability, and “most observers view this state as Thompson’s last stand, although his aides say simply that they don’t know what’s coming next,” the National Review reported.