Thompson: Too Little, Too Late?
Cross-posted at my new location, Ohio Daily Blog:
I agree with Jerid on Buckeye State Blog that former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN), who will be announcing his official campaign with a web video and a whirlwind tour on Thursday, is probably entering the race too late. He is unlikely to mount a successful campaign at this point.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) has a huge lead in Iowa and has spent heavily to create a strong organization on the ground. Since his strong showing in the Ames straw poll, former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) has emerged as a "conservative alternative," undercutting Thompson's appeal on that basis. Thompson's fund-raising has been disappointing, so it is unclear how much he can pour into this state. Nevertheless, Thompson must make a very strong showing in Iowa - probably a second place finish - to do well in later contests.
Thompson is skipping the New Hampshire debate next week, and neither his rigid social conservatism nor his southern roots are helpful there. It is also virtually a home court for Romney, who is polling well. So don't look for Thompson to finish strong in the Granite State.
As pointed out today on The Trail, that makes South Carolina and Florida critical contests for Thompson. He has to win one or both convincingly. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) has been polling well in both states, especially in Florida. Romney will be a strong opponent in South Carolina if he wins Iowa and/or New Hampshire as expected. It's a high hurdle for Thompson, and I don't see Thompson as such a stellar performer as to be expected to pull it off. His testing-the-water phase was hardly error-free, his staff turnover has hindered the creation of a solid foundation, and there are hints that he is not the kind of hard-charging campaigner who can make up a lot of ground quickly. I expect him to be a top tier candidate and to shake up the dynamics of the GOP race, but I do not expect him to become the eventual nominee.