Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Thompson Update

Some good news:

1. Thompson continues to staff up, including the get of Michael Turk, who ran e-operations for the Bush-Cheney re-elect. (I suspect the runners-up, if they were approached, included Turk's RNC partner, Patrick Ruffini, who recently left the Giuliani campaign, and Jon Henke, who until recently was the new media adviser for the U.S. Senate.)

2. Few Republican operatives doubt Mr. Thompson can raise the initial $5 million he seeks. As one major party fund-raiser puts it, "You don't put out a figure like that unless you're pretty sure you can get there." Moreover, four large states that turned out well for President Bush in 2004—Florida, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan—have been tapped only lightly by the current crop of candidates, and first-quarter finance reports suggest numerous former Bush mega-fund-raisers remain uncommitted.

Some bad news:

1. According to the WSJ, Thompson "has suggested he isn't enamored of leaving his family for long stretches of campaign travel." Even if his campaign use of the Internet is as brilliant as his takedown of Michael Moore, a shortage of meet and greets may be seen as tantamount to snubbing, especially in places like New Hampshire, where people don't want to vote for you until you've shaken their hand.

2. Thompson has been riding high partly due to his acting career. But once his name appears on state ballots, this free press would significantly diminish, owing to the federal campaign law that requires broadcasters to give all candidates equal time on the airwaves. Television stations "would in all likelihood have to pull all of the Fred Thompson shows for the duration of his candidacy," says Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project. Indeed, during the 2003 gubernatorial race in California, stations dropped all Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, lest the showing the FCC require them to give countless hours of free airtime to all 134 other candidates.

Update (6/6): Charlie Cook elaborates on the bad news, part one:

No amount of name ID can replace one on one contact with voters, especially in early primary and caucus states. Campaigns are about pressing the flesh. While new forms of technology may help to increase the ways in which candidates communicate with voters, and the frequency in which they do so, nothing beats in person appearances. Spoiled voters in early states demand face to face campaigning.