Fred Thompson Wakes Up for South Carolina Debate
Fred Thompson showed up at last night’s presidential debate enthusiastic, prepared, and seeming to care. If this keeps up, George Mitchell might need to investigate him for use of performance enhancing substances.
Mr. Thompson leavened his responses with the kind of one-liners that many supporters had hoped he would use sooner.
Asked about the United States response in a confrontation with Iranian speedboats, Mr. Thompson said, “I think one more step and they would have been introduced to those virgins that they’re looking forward to seeing.” At another point, he offered that “you can tell that the news is good coming out of Iraq because you read so little about it in The New York Times.”
He also went after Mr. McCain on immigration. “I disagree with my friend John McCain on the bill that they proposed last year,” Mr. Thompson said. “I disagree with my friend Governor Huckabee when he supported in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.”
And the blogosphere went wild . . .
Jim Geraghty: “This performance was so commanding, I wanted his last answer to echo back to the lights in the back of the auditorium, blow out all the lamps and spotlights, for the theme to ‘the Natural’ to play, and for him to trot around the stage in slow motion while sparks showered down in the background.”
Andrew Sullivan: “For me, the big news was that Fred Thompson is alive. He came out swinging against Huckabee in ways that frankly surprised me. Funny at times, acerbic at others, he seemed much more comfortable as a campaigner.”
Even Hugh Hewitt thought Thompson won: “Fred had a great night, Mitt a good one and Rudy did fine as well.”
As noted earlier, the blogosphere was already much more enamored with Thompson than the public at large. Frank J‘s post about his participation in Thompson’s blogger conference call (which I missed due to a scheduling conflict) — BIGGEST THING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF IMAO!!! — is a classic example:
Guess who I just got off the phone with?
Yep, blogger conference call with Fred Thompson himself. All those years of blogging have finally paid off. It was awesome. I had the phone on speaker, and as soon as Fred Thompson started talking, even the dog sat up straight to listen.
Bryan Preston, who has an excellent round-up of Thompson sound byte videos, thinks Thompson is a McCain “stalking horse” in fact if not intent at this point.
I don’t see Thompson recovering from his lethargic start, either. Even in South Carolina, he’s no higher than fourth in any of the recent polls. Will last night’s performance catapult him to the forefront? Especially after what figures to be another poor finish in Michigan? I rather doubt it. It seems much more likely that his blows will wake Southerners up to the fact that Huckabee is indeed a social and fiscal liberal and thus help McCain.