Goodwin: “Thompson has to be taken seriously”

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Goodwin: “Thompson has to be taken seriously”

18 Ottobre 2007

Interview with Michael Goodwin, New York Daily News, (Pulitzer Prize-winning

says that Thompson entered the race too late. Do you agree?

“While there is no question that Thompson
was late to enter as measured by the other candidates and the pace of the
campaign, he was not too late. Indeed, by recent traditional standards, he
entered about the time most candidates do—toward the end of the year before the
election. Although the election season this time started early, there is still
plenty of time for Thompson to make a good run, with the first primary votes
cast in January and the big states all voting in February and March”.

his first presidential debate, in Michigan,
you wrote that Thompson shows he’s no joke. Can he really revive the hopes of
the GOP?

“There is no one candidate who can revive
the hopes of the GOP. The party is split among several candidates and most
polls show Democrats ahead in the generic match-ups and the issues usually
associated with Democrats, such as health care, are important to many people
now. My point about Thompson was that he put on a performance that exceeded the
low expectations set for him. In that sense, and recognizing his strong
position in most polls, he has to be taken seriously”.

are, in your opinion, the strenghts and the weakenesses of Fred Thompson?
“His strengths are his wide name recognition, no
doubt enhanced by his acting career, and his Southern, pro-life background,
which have become almost required in the modern GOP. His weakness is
essentially the notion that he is lazy, that he has little energy and doesn’t
have the “fire in the belly” determination needed for a long, bare-knuckles
brawl. Indeed, he had no public schedule for the five or six days after his
first debate. That’s inexplicable, given that most of the reviews of the debate
were good. It was a chance to build on some momentum. That he went back to
hiding tends to reinforce the notion that he is not fully committed to the race
and willing to do what it will take to win”.

Thompson hurt his republican adversaries, especially the frontrunner Giuliani?
“The polls show that Giuliani’s lead started to
slip as Thompson got closer to running. There is a certain logic in that the
other challengers, especially John McCain and Mitt Romney, had not made much
headway against Giuliani. Thompson emerged as an alternative who fit certain
profiles of a traditional GOP nominee, so some of those not happy with Giuliani
began to look at Thompson. Also, large amounts of media coverage, most of it
favorable, gave Thompson a boost before he even entered. Add all that up and it
is not surprising that Thompson’s gains came mostly at Giuliani’s expense.
However, it is also true that his gains kept Romney and McCain from picking up
support, with the result being that Giuliani has maintained his front-runner

In Europe, Thompson is almost exclusively known as an actor.
How the american people consider him as a politician?
“Many Americans also know him as an actor first.
However, Republican primary voters, who tend to be more involved in the
process, are more likely to know more about his political background than
Democrats or Independents”.

as all the odds say, Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic presidential
candidate, Thompson could be a  candidate up to the task?

“It all depends on which Thompson emerges.
If he continues to hold back and create doubts about his commitment, I don’t
think he will be nominated by the GOP. Most Republicans have very unfavorable
views of Hillary Clinton and they do not want to nominate someone who cannot
defeat her. Thompson will have to pick up his energy level to persuade primary
voters that he can do that. Meanwhile, the vacuum plays into Giuliani’s strengths—many
polls show that, among Republicans, he does best in one-on-one matchups against
Clinton. That is why Giuliani is strongly attacking her even at this early
stage—he believes it will boost him among GOP primary voters and could be his
ticket to the nomination”.