Fox had all kinds of technical trouble with its Campaign Carl Cam, but the gist gets through: Mitt lauds Fred’s commitment to the entire Reagan coalition and expects, or rather hopes, Thompson’s exit to benefit his campaign. I missed the first few seconds but caught most of it, including the glitches. I left Sheppard Smith’s reaction in, just because.
Having had contact with several of the campaigns over the past several months, I have to say that today shows us in stark contrast the difference between a campaign that works and ones that don’t. Within minutes of Thompson’s exit, the Romney campaign had a reaction statement up on its web site. They have probably had it ready to go since Saturday night, and just pushed the publish button once Fred officially dropped out. You can either chalk this up to money or management or some combination of both, but it often comes down to just wanting the job enough to make a serious effort at getting it and building the kind of organization it takes to become competitive.
Early in the Fred Phenomenon I tried and tried and tried to lock in a sit-down with Fred to talk to Michelle on camera. This was last spring and summer, before his official announcement that he was even jumping in, when he lived in McLean, VA and wasn’t running around the country campaigning. We were offering time here on Hot Air to make his case and show his stuff. But we could never get a straight answer out of the campaign. And this was in spite of the fact that I was promised more than once that we would get an interview, it was just a question of timing and logistics. It wasn’t a case of getting the runaround. It just, from the outside, felt like there were an awful lot of moving parts that hadn’t been attached to a functional machine yet.
In retrospect, that was a telling sign that there was chaos at the top of the effort that wasn’t likely to go away. Later on that version of the Thompson campaign imploded and v2.0 came out. It worked better, but by then Fred was already so far behind in every way that he needed everything to break his way just to become competitive. Unfortunately, that never happened. The Huckaboom took everyone by surprise, and now McCain’s surge is the campaign shock story.
I’d like to have seen Fred Thompson mount a serious campaign, make his case, punch more hippies and keep the GOP listing to the right. Fred Thompson was consistently the best debater, but it takes more than debate performances to become president (conversely, poor debate performances shouldn’t be enough to write off a good candidate either, though debates do matter). In order to win you have to show that you know how to build the organization that it takes. Fred Thompson never showed much interest in that part of the race, and that’s part of the reason why, in spite of his being the most interesting and charismatic conservative of the campaign, he’s taking the early exit.
Update: SeeDubya experienced the Fred campaign’s disorganization up close and personal too.