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October 09, 2007


Been Around

I must say that I watched the debate and the word "crisp" is hardly the one I would have chosen to describe Thompson's performance. Lets just say he did not hurt himself.

The other under-performer was Romney. A debate in Michigan on economic issues should have been a perfect set-up for him, but he just cannot but help but to come off as too polished and a little creepy.

Richard Rios

He did well. The pressure was on, he handled the trick question and Mathews, jabbed back when jabbed and had a lot of facts - and let us not notice the man has a sense of humar too. This may be disappionting for some who were looking for a fall but only the opposite happened.

links on politico.com:

Wall Street Journal
Newcomer Fred Thompson was the buzz heading in to today’s Republican debate, so did he live up to the hype?
The former Tennessee senator offered up more substance on policy matters than he has in his first few weeks on trail.
He appeared comfortable on the stage — after recovering from an awkward pause in responding to the debate’s first question, which was on the health of the economy. Thompson said he felt good on the stage.

The newcomer to the Republican presidential field didn't stand out in his first debate of the 2008 race but he didn't blow it either.

"He had a fine performance," said Sara Taylor, a former political adviser to President Bush who is neutral in the 2008 race. "He certainly passed the test of can he stand on the stage with these guys and articulate his views."

"Thompson cleared a hurdle today by showing he can rough and tumble with the best of them," said Greg Mueller, a Republican strategist and veteran of presidential campaigns who is unaligned in this race.


Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson made a crisp debut in his first 2008 debate appearance on Tuesday, and rivals Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney battled over their records on taxes and spending.

Thompson, 65, the former Hollywood actor and Tennessee senator, has shot into second place among Republicans in polls since entering the race. While he has been criticized for being vague on facts and unfamiliar with issues on the campaign trail, he appeared at ease and authoritative in the debate.


First time debater Fred Thompson seemed well prepared and did not give in to fruity abstractions when talking about obtuse topics. Some of his rivals may have assumed that he would wither under tough questions from the moderators: he did not. Some journalists may have assumed that he would slouch or tire; he seemed energetic. If this was a test, artificial as it may have been, Thompson passed it. He demonstrated that his campaign has density. He did not fall for any of the traps that the moderators laid for him.

Kudos section:
Thompson: for eclipsing (artificial) low expectations; for holding his own. For giving specifics about how he’d solve the long term solvency problems of Medicare and Social Security. He seemed to give the best answer in re: unions.


Chris Matthews asks the toughest question of the night. He asks Fred Thompson who the leader of Canada is. Mr. Thompson nails it.

Thompson, an actor and former Tennessee senator, appeared visibly nervous in the debate's opening moments, but displayed flashes of humor as the two-hour event, held in Dearborn, Mich., drew to a close.

For the most part, Thompson did not stray from party orthodoxy, hailing the virtues of small government and free trade. He also called attention to long-term problems with Social Security and Medicare, which face insolvency with the retirement of the Baby Boom generation.

He suggested one option for preserving Social Security would be to slow the growth of benefits by pegging annual increases to the inflation rate.

Lightening up toward the end of the debate, Thompson joked about his late entrance to the race last month.
"I've enjoyed watching these fellas," he said. "I've got to admit, it was getting a little boring without me, but I'm glad to be here now."

Dan Chmielewski

He set expctations so low, he had nowhere to go but up. But he still had to ask a crowd in Iowa to applaud for him and still thinks the Soviet Union could be a problem for us. Funny, I thought the Soviet Union ended years ago.



DP Resident

"I thought the Soviet Union ended years ago."

When they were the USSR, a lot of people still called the whole hoard "Russians". What you might want to ask is:

- How threatened do the countries ajoining Russia feel?

- Why are the Russians still spying on the U.S. at Cold War levels?

- Why have they resumed the old Cold War style bomber runs in international airspace that are forcing the U.S. and our Allies to scramble fighters like its 1970?

- They finally found the gas and oil they were always sitting on. Not only does this give the Russians a source of hard currency, but the ability to manipulate Europe by threatening to cut off a major source.

Regardless of who is sitting in the White House in 2009, these are issues they will have to consider.


A contrary opinion

Thirty-year-old Oval Office recordings made of President Richard Nixon paint an unflattering portrait of GOP presidential hopeful Fred Thompson, then an upstart Watergate counsel the former president dismissed as "dumb as hell."

"Fred Thompson has made much of his role 30 years ago as a young Senate lawyer helping to lead the investigation of Watergate and President Richard Nixon," reported ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross on Good Morning America.

"But a much different, less valiant picture of Thompson emerges from listening to the White house audio tapes made at the time, as President Nixon plotted strategy with his aides in the Oval Office," Ross continued.

At one point in the tapes, which ABC News spent months examining at the National Archives, Nixon is told that Thompson has been appointed by Tennessee Senator Howard Baker to head the Republican end of the Senate investigation into Watergate.

"Baker has appointed Fred Thompson as minority counsel," says then Nixon aide HR Haledman.

"Oh shit, that kid," the dismayed president responds.

Later in the tapes, Nixon fretted that Thompson would be outwitted by his opposition in the Senate investigation, Democratic counsel Sam Dash.

"Dash is too smart for that kid," Nixon can be heard to say.

But the former president's most damning words for Fred Thompson came during a May 1973 conversation with then chief of staff Alexander Haig about concerns that the future senator wouldn't stand up strongly enough to Democrats.

"Oh shit, he's dumb as hell," Nixon says at the mention of Thompson's name. "Who's -- Who is he? He won't say anything."

The tapes also reveal an apparently close association between Thompson and the White House.

"[Thompson] is willing to work with us, he is also now willing to work with us on shifting some focus to the Democrats," White House counsel Fred Buzhardt told the president. "He's finally made up his mind he's got to start looking at some of their stuff."

"It was the equivalent of, you know, two prosecutors knowing about something and one of them going behind the scenes to tell the person being accused what the witnesses were saying about them," former Senate Watergate Committee investigator Scott Armstrong told ABC News.

The following video is from ABC's Good Morning America, broadcast on October 10, 2007.

Allan Bartlett

I thought Romney's answer about having to consult with lawyers before going to war was hilarious and sad at the same time. The only way to go to war is a declaration from Congress. It's stipulated in the Constitution. There's no need for lawyers Gov. Romney.


"The only way to go to war is a declaration from Congress. It's stipulated in the Constitution. There's no need for lawyers Gov. Romney."

Nope. Apparently a President can go to war by just prying a resolution to use force out of Congress. Or, failing that, just put some troops in harms way and keep leveraging the war from there.

BTW, brian an insult from Nixon is not a bad thing - specially since he seemed miffed that Thompson wouldn't enthusiastically get on board the S.S. Watergate with the rest of the crooks.

Dan Chmielewski

The Thompson campaign reportly raised more than $8 million in the 3rd quarter (its first full quarter) — that is, for July, August, and September.

This compares with 1st quarter numbers of his three main rivals: Mitt Romney, $21.2M; Rudy Giuliani, $16.6M; John McCain, $13M.

Adding in Mr. Thompson's fundraising from June, that total for 4 months is $11-12 million. So much for the huge untapped fundraising stream for Fred once he got in the race.

Michael Kozlowski

Read my letter to the editor about the debate.

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