Fizzle? Fred to announce he raised $3M in June; Update: Unfair expectations?

I mentioned this last week but Politico went and got some tasty quotes for the occasion. I’d say between this and conservatives blanching at his association with Spencer Abraham, the Fred backlash is now in full swing. Sounds like an obituary!

Fred Thompson plans to announce Tuesday that his committee to test the waters for a Republican presidential campaign raised slightly more than $3 million in June, substantially less than some backers had hoped, according to Republican sources…

Many Republicans had seen the “Law & Order” actor and former U.S. senator from Tennessee as a potential savior in a tough election cycle.

He attracted support from such top-shelf party figures as Mary Matalin, Liz Cheney, George P. Bush and other GOP stalwarts who saw him as a potential Hillary Clinton slayer.

But many Republicans have turned queasy as Thompson has ousted part of his original brain trust and repeatedly delayed his official announcement, which is now planned for shortly after Labor Day, in the first two weeks of September.

Some are already saying a prospective Thompson run is a flop. “I just don’t see it anymore,” said a key Republican who had been extremely enthusiastic about a Thompson candidacy.

“That number is really underwhelming. There were indications it could be double that. They’ve been saying that people were waiting for Fred, and the money was going to pour in. He looks like he’s already losing momentum.”

What’s been his biggest problem so far? Abraham, the striptease over when he’s going to declare, or the LA Times abortion lobby story? I think it’s the last one, not because the facts of did him any real harm but because, as the conservative messiah, he’s the guy we all wanted to trust and it turned out his campaign was BS-ing us right out of the box about what he had and hadn’t done. Plus, it didn’t exactly burnish his credentials as a Reaganesque communicator. If you’re going to spin, you’ve got to do it more artfully than that.

Update: Rob Port notes that exploratory committees are bound by law not to raise more money than they need to operate committee; only after the official announcement can they legally start racking up big dollars. That’s fine, but in that case why were Fred’s “First Day Founders” initially asked to bring in $4.6 million? Or even $5 million?

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