Fred Thompson’s call to arms in South Carolina

Fred Thompson talked to bloggers today. Thompson made it clear that he’s “drawing a line in South Carolina” — in other words, staking his candidacy on winning the primary there. He hopes to accomplish this by advancing his claim (valid in my view) that he’s the one major Republican candidate with a long record of taking conservative positions pretty much across-the-board.
Thompson’s theme will be that he’s fighting a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican party in South Carolina. His opponents, he will argue, all plan to move the party away from its Reaganite roots and towards the left. In courting conservatives, Thomposn believes that they are “trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.” At one point, he went so far as to agree with a questioner that his opponents are all liberals, which is quite an exaggeration. In any event, Thompson plans during tonight’s debate to “draw some contrasts” with his opponents.
South Carolina is the ideal state for Thompson to make his stand in. It’s a traditionally conservative southern state in which he has friends and contacts. Thompson insists, moreover, that he has enough money to engage the voters, and not just at a purely “retail” level. He promised to be “competitive” on the state’s airwave. In Thompson’s view, a vast portion of the state’s Republican electorate is undecided (polls tend to confirm this) and likely to be receptive to his message.
Addressing criticism of his approach to campaigning, Thompson observed that, because of his background as an actor, people expected him to be slick. But that’s just not his style and he must remain who he is. If that turns out to be too laid back then “it’s too laid back.”
At one point, Thompson jokingly solicited suggestions on gimics that will help him generate buzz. In response, a questioner asked him whether he might bring in a Chuck Norris or Oprah Winfrey style celebrity to assist his campaign. “Nope,” Thompson responded. As he put it, “this is about me; either I work [in South Carolina] or I dont; I’ll stand or fall on who I am and what I believe.”
Thompson was clearly unhappy with the way the media has covered him, particularly when it spread the rumor that he would withdraw after Iowa. Thompson believes these rumors hurt him some in the caucuses. However, he is resigned to the fact that at the end of the day the MSM is impressed only with success on election night, and it’s up to him to deliver that success.
Thompson also declined to attribute the success of Huckabee and even McCain to the media. Instead, he credits them for “laboring in the vineyard,” which is what Thompson will do the rest of the way in South Carolina.
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