This is what happens to coverage when the campaign lasts 18 months.

On the other hand, what is the deal with the coughing?

Take his response to a question about the size of the military, which went something like this: “Military experts need to tell us (harumph) the exact numbers (harumph) that they think we need (harumph).”

That’s when he paused to offer his explanation.

“When you got a four-year-old and a one-year-old at home, there’s almost always something going around (harumph),” he said, drawing appreciative laughter from the audience. “It’s on its way here right now, I think (harumph).”…

But in an interview in Iowa with The Times’s national political correspondent, Adam Nagourney [in early October], Mr. Thompson, with his wife, Jeri, at his side, offered a somewhat different explanation. He had been coughing throughout a morning event just before and during the interview his wife quietly slipped him a glass of water.

Mr. Thompson explained that he had drunk coffee with milk in the morning, which his doctors told him had caused throat congestion.

They’ve actually got an audio clip at the link. Exit question one: Is this the Times’s way of obliquely injecting Fred’s health into the debate? Reads more like a slow-news-day desperation bid for easy content to me but I know the media-bashers and conspiracists among our commenters will be quick to steer me right. Exit question two: Are they sure he’s coughing and not just saying “uh”?

Tags: Iowa