Fred Dominates in Absentia

Thompson scored in abstentia, says Spectator's Talbin
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2007 10:18 AM CDT
Former Senator and not yet declared Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson greets fairgoers during an appearance at the Minnesota State Fair Monday, Aug. 27, 2007 in Falcon Heights, Minn.(AP...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Fred Thompson's campaign counter-programming last night—announcing his candidacy on Jay Leno instead of debating GOP rivals in New Hampshire—scored with the American Spectator’s John Tabin, who notes that he dominated the debate without being there. The forum’s first question was a contest to see who could riff on Fred best: "Maybe we were up past his bedtime," John McCain quipped. Rudy Giuliani said he appreciated Thompson’s portrayal of him on “Law & Order.”

Meanwhile, on Leno, Thompson was most successful when explaining his delay: Voters “treat politicians kind of like the dentist—they don't have anything to do with them until they have to," he joked. But when the chatter turned to policy, the interview “got somber, and even dull,” complained Tabin, who says Thompson must learn to communicate from the gut.