Fred Thompson Quitting – Or Surging?
Jonathan Martin and Mike Allen of The Politico have a story entitled, “Fred Thompson may drop out, back McCain.”
Thompson’s campaign, which last spring and summer was generating fevered anticipation in the media and with some Republican activists, has never ignited nationally, and there are no signs of a late spark happening here in Iowa, where even a third-place finish is far from assured.
This strikes me as right and comports with predictions I’ve made in recent weeks. Not only does Thompson’s campaign appear to be faltering, he doesn’t strike me as a bitter ender. And, certainly, McCain is the guy he’s most likely to endorse.
Amusingly, however, NRO’s Peter Robinson reports a “Late-Breaking Surge for Thompson.”
The latest news from Iowa? According to Zogby’s latest—and I quote: “Sen. Fred Thompson…has seen a late-breaking surge.”
It should be noted that Thompson’s “surge” is well within the margin of error. This doesn’t stop speculation that it is based on the good people of Iowa finally recognizing what a gosh darned good fella Thompson is.
The Iowa Caucuses are sufficiently unpredictable that a third place finish by Thompson — or, heck, Ron Paul — wouldn’t surprise me. I do think, however, that if Thompson doesn’t make a respectable showing in Iowa or New Hampshire, he’ll call it quits and back McCain. Obviously, for McCain’s sake, it would be preferable if it happened before New Hampshire but, given that only five days separates the two contests, there’s not much incentive for Thompson to do that.
UPDATE: Fred Thompson denies this rumor, calling it “absolutely made up out of whole cloth” and speculating that a rival campaign had planted the rumor. Of course, what else is he going to say?
UPDATE: Thompson was interviewed by Tim Russert on this topic today. Here’s the video:
Josh Marshall‘s assessment: “Fred Thompson about as enthusiastic about saying he’s staying in the race as he has been about running his campaign …” Actually, though, it strikes me as a perfectly solid answer to the question — albeit a bit too honest about the legitimate possibility that he’ll get “shellacked” and have to reassess things. Whether one finds that candor refreshing or a sign of apathy likely depends one one’s predisposition towards Thompson.