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Too late?

By Lisa Fabrizio
web posted April 2, 2007

If you're are like me, you feel that The Godfather Part II is one of maybe a dozen fine movies to come out of Hollywood in the last 50 years. In it is a scene that often comes to my mind: In Cuba, Michael Corleone says to Hyman Roth, "I saw an interesting thing happen today." While he goes on to relate a tale of Castro's guerillas, the line represents a major turning point in the plot.

Similar critical moments also occur in some political seasons, one of which may be the 2008 presidential contest. While many money men have already committed their considerable funds and fundraising machinery to one candidate or another, the hearts of many voters remain un-won.  

This is especially true in the Republican Party where most of its conservative base is left largely uncommitted; wandering in the desert, searching for a savior to bring it home. The smart-money guys--this includes the above-mentioned professional consultants and operatives as well as the mainstream media--are peddling a bill of goods touting Rudy Giuliani as The One, but to many conservatives he remains a false prophet at best.

Many experts saw the 2006 midterm elections as a sign that the American electorate has soured on the GOP and the ‘values' issues they reportedly held so dear in returning George W. Bush to the White House only two short years before. Indeed, media Democrats are so emboldened by their congressional majority, they feel confident enough to helpfully suggest that only a ‘moderate' Republican like Rudy can hope to prevent The Clintons Part II.

Fred ThompsonLast week I wrote of the amazing draft Fred Thompson movement. And that same week, I saw an interesting thing happen. As dubiously as I normally regard polling data, the latest from Rasmussen--its first national telephone survey involving Thompson--may be highly instructive. The results show that without even the brim of his hat in the ring, he already leads Hillary Clinton by a percentage point.

True, it also has him trailing Barack Obama by 12%, but the bad news for Obama is that although he has a robust 54% favorability rating, he has a 36% unfavorable mark, which means that only 10% of those polled are left with no opinion of him. Likewise, only two percent are undecided about Mrs. Clinton; not surprising since she's been in the national spotlight for nearly 15 years. And while Rudy beats both of them head to head poll-wise, only a slim five percent of those polled had no opinion of him.

In other words, with nine months to go before the first primaries kick off, most folks have their minds made up about the front-runners. On the other hand, according to the poll Thompson shows a 36% favorable and only a 23% unfavorable number meaning that he's got a potential 41% of the folks to win over. Should his Reagan-like affability and common sense values appeal to say, even half of them, we've got ourselves a horse-race with a real conservative entry in it.

There are those who say that it's too late for Fred; that it takes an enormous amount of time to build up name recognition. These people obviously never sit around, as do I, enjoying adult beverages with regular folks who can effortlessly identify everyone, from last night's contestants on American Idol to the latest missing mountaineer by name.

Some also contend that he's way behind in endorsements and fundraising. But scuttlebutt has it that nearly one quarter of House Republicans may be ready to back him when he visits Capitol Hill on April 18th. And money from grassroots conservatives and the rest of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy could pile up quickly should they feel they have one of their own in the fight.

And so, following Vito Corleone's advice to his son regarding enemies, let's listen to what our close friends at the Daily Kos think of Thompson:

[H]e's popular with the Republican base and has proven electoral appeal with swing voters and independents… he's very intelligent, a strong speaker and an excellent debater…Moreover, he would have several strengths against any of our top three candidates. He comes off to most as more likable than Hillary Clinton. Unlike McCain, Giuliani or Romney, he'll certainly out-Southern John Edwards. And he'll score well on the gravitas score against either Edwards or Obama(less so for the latter).

Let's hope he doesn't run, or that if he does, all the top money and operatives have already been snatched up and he gains no more traction than, say, Mike Huckabee. ESR

Lisa Fabrizio is a columnist who hails from Connecticut. You may write her at mailbox@lisafab.com.

Other related essays:

  • Fred Thompson and Supreme Court nominations by Bruce Walker (April 2, 2007)
    Bruce Walker believes that the reason why conservatives should be supporting former senator Fred Thompson is the caliber of judges he would be promoting to the Supreme Court
  • Yes, the next Reagan by Bruce Walker (March 26, 2007)
    Is former Tennessee senator and current Law & Order star Fred Thompson the savior of the Republican Party and conservatism in general? Bruce Walker believes he is
  • Fredheads by Lisa Fabrizio (March 26, 2007)
    Lisa Fabrizio will argue that Fred Thompson isn't perfect -- his vagueness on illegal immigration and his pro-campaign finance reform stand give pause -- but the former senator is the best of the bunch
  • Fred Thompson: Neocon globalist by Basil Harrington (March 26, 2007)
    Wait one minute, responds Basil Harrington. Fred Thompson may be many things but his record illustrates that the former senator is anything but a conservative



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