Fred Thompson may not have impressed certain “inside-the-beltway” pundits in the run-up to his entry into the presidential race, but so far he seems to be doing fairly well among Republican voters. The latest Rasmussen survey has him in a statistical dead-heat with Rudy Giuliani. And a Des Moines Register poll has Thompson running a respectable second to Mitt Romney in Iowa (29 percent to 18 percent). A month and a half ago it looked like Romney might lap the field in that state, where he’s focused so heavily.
Thompson’s popularity shouldn’t be too surprising. Of the four leading contenders, he’s the one who can deliver the most consistently conservative message with the fewest contradictions of past positions.
Thompson’s solid showing in the polls adds an element of interest to this week’s debate among Republican candidates to be held on Tuesday in Dearborn, Michigan. It will mark Thompson’s first appearance in such a debate.
Many observers believe that Thompson delayed his entry into the campaign in order to make sure he’d be ready to perform well at events like debates. Thus, it’s natural to view Tuesday’s debate as Thompson’s opportunity to prove he’s ready for prime time. That’s fair enough, as long as one keeps in mind that the people he needs to prove this to are Republican voters, not beltway insiders.
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