Grossly unfair. It’s not that he’s lazy; it’s that he just doesn’t like people. Or so it seems:
The traditional town-hall-like meetings — where candidates are peppered by dozens of questions from voters, often for more than an hour — are not for Mr. Thompson. Nor is other aggressive retail campaigning.
Instead, he holds sessions billed by the campaign as chances to “meet Fred,” often little more than photo opportunities, with the staging not especially well choreographed. And even those are relatively few, with a typical week instead dominated by fund-raisers that are closed to the press and the general public alike…
Mr. Thompson’s performance at the debate capped a weeklong period in which he held only one retail campaign event: a “meet Fred” rally last Saturday in a small room at the back of Sticky Fingers, a barbecue restaurant in Summerville, S.C. There was no music or food. There were not even chairs, and so some 100 voters there to see him had to stand for three hours before he arrived.
After brief remarks in which he cited the broad conservative principles that he said guided him, he took just a half-dozen questions. The appearance lasted less than 30 minutes, and he left without mingling with customers elsewhere in the restaurant…
When the Republican candidates gathered in Orlando, Fla., for the state party’s convention, Mr. Thompson’s rivals all gave impassioned and detailed speeches that lasted nearly a half-hour each. He spoke for four minutes.
Among those in the crowd was Linda Hoffman, 47, who wore stickers for all the candidates on her blazer, a reflection of her indecision. “I was really kind of shocked,” Ms. Hoffman said right after hearing Mr. Thompson. “We were all hoping he would say something we could get behind, but there was nothing.”
What’s his problem? I can understand not enjoying the glad-handing or eschewing a long speech in favor of a pithy one, but if simple courtesy doesn’t compel you to grit your teeth and go through the motions for your supporters than the prospect of pieces like this noting your unorthodoxy should. The meme about him not wanting to win has always struck me as stupid but it might be less stupid to say “he wants to win but not so much that he’s going to go around shaking hands to do it.” In which case…?
Update: One other thing. The Fredheads never cease to remind us that Fred’s the only candidate consistently rolling out detailed policy proposals on hot-button issues. In which case, why isn’t he taking full advantage of his time at these events? He could have used the Florida event to go down the laundry list and let the audience draw their own contrast between him and, say, Mitt talking about family for 15 minutes. Instead, nothing.