For a party in search of its last, best hope, Fred Thompson may turn out to be not so much savior as dud. The actor-turned-senator-turned-heir to the Reagan throne chose Orange County's conservative Lincoln Club for his first speech since the presidential hype began, and the reaction, writes Robert Novak, was decidedly underwhelming.
''It was not Reaganesque," one audience member complained after Friday's 30-minute speech. The lackluster reaction may signal trouble for the it-boy conservative, who has risen quickly to the GOP's upper tier. But supporters' real fear, says Novak, is the effect on Thompson, specifically "whether the tepid reaction ... will shake what had seemed his clear resolve to make the race."