Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Thoughts on a presidential announcement

As I mentioned over at the BBA, I was at Tommy Thompson's "official" announcement that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2008. For the most part, these announcement events are, well, uneventful. Still, I appreciate the opportunity to be at Thompson's announcement, and I have a few thoughts on the day's festivities. As for Thompson's speech, I think it was solid over all. From a pure stylistic standpoint, it was easy to tell what issues Thompson is passionate about and which issues he is not. His passion for issues is going to be a huge benefit for him on the campaign trail as long as he keeps it reigned in, but he may lose some people on those issues he does not get as excited about.

As for the substance of his speech, in my post at the BBA I stated that, "I think a few of his ideas are going to be on the edge of conservatism at best." I've changed my mind on that slightly. There are a few issues that Thompson has stances on that are not pure conservative issues. In fact, they divide conservatives. Some of those issues, including ethanol, health plans, and the line item veto for the President, could be beneficial to Thompson in the caucuses/primaries but come back to bite him in a general election. His Iraq plan has some promise. At the very least, it created a sense of hope, something I think a lot of people are craving right now. I was left wondering how feasible some aspects of his plan were, unfortunately.

As I left Messmer high school, my over all opinion of the Thompson campaign remained unchanged. He would need to end up 1st or 2nd in the Iowa caucus, because with primaries moving forward, that caucus is going to be even more important than it was before. His all out Iowa strategy is a good one, but we mustn't forget that all of the other candidates will be dumping resources into Iowa, too. Quietly keeping the VP doors open might be a good move for Thompson.

-Thanks to the nice folks from Madison that I carpooled with. I sat next to a few of them, and they patiently tolerated me, a total stranger, clicking away on my camera during the speeches.
-My apologies to the woman from WPR. I'm not sure if she was on the air at the point she asked to talk with me about the speech, but I just wasn't prepared to discuss it yet when I declined.
-A Journal Sentinel reporter asked some questions of us outside Messmer after the event. I was struck by his questions. It was clear that he already had his story formulated in his head, and he was searching for the quotes he wanted from Thompson supporters by asking carefully tailored questions. I can understand having the framework for a story in mind while asking questions, but was trying to gin up the supporting quotes for his thesis. It didn't appear that his thesis was all that favorable for Thompson.
-One question that seemed to offend the people I was with was, "do you think Mrs. Thompson is supportive of his decision to run?" I think I have an inkling as to what he had in mind with that question, and I'm just waiting to see what reporter goes there first.

Finally, I wanted to share this picture. I had a tough time photographing Thompson because of the relatively low lighting, my moderate quality equipment, and because my inferior photography skills. This one is amusing, though, and the look on Thompson's face and the laugh on Scott Walker's makes it seem like somebody had exhibited bad manners off-camera.

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