Those looking for a smash performance will likely be disappointed but neither was there a wipe out. He still has a whole lot of ahhhs and errrrs but he had a nice conversational tone and does seem thoughtful. I do suspect that the after the fact reviews will focus on: 1) his statement that it would be his “intent” to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons sounding a bit Hillary-ish; 2) he sounded less keen on allowing students to carry concealed weapons than in the past and 3) his abortion answers.
On the latter, operating from a rough transcript:
“I’m not willing to support laws that prohibit early term abortions. I’m not suddenly going to know when life begins and where that place ought to be exactly. it comes down to whether you believe life begins at conception. I don’t know if my own mind if that is the case, so I don’t feel law ought to impose that standard on other people.”
Later on: “I would take those same positions. no federal funding for abortions, no nothing that would in any way encourage abortion. when I saw — again, all consistent with what I’ve said. people ask me hypothetically, okay, you know, it goes back to the states. somebody comes up with a bill and they say we’re going to outlaw this or the other. and my response is I do not think it is a wise thing to criminalize young girls and perhaps their parents as aiders and bettors and perhaps their family position. and that’s what you’re talking about. potential criminal law. I said those things are going to be in the hearts and minds of people. I’m probably a pretty good example of that. although my head and my legislative record’s always been the same, when I saw that sonogram of my little now 4-year-old, it’s changed my heart. it’s changed the way I look at things. I was looking at my child when I saw that. and I knew, and I felt that, and that’s the way I feel today. and I think life begins at conception. I always — it was abstract to me before. I was a father earlier when I was very young. I was busy. I went about my way. one of the maybe few advantages you have of getting a little bit older.”
And then this:
“RUSSERT: You would allow abortion to be performed in state if chosen by states for people who think otherwise.
THOMPSON: I do not think that you can have a law that would be effective and that would be the right thing to do, as I say, in terms of potentially — you can’t have a law that cuts off an age group or something like that which potentially would take young girls in extreme situations and say, basically, we’re going to put them in jail to do that. I just don’t think that that’s the right thing to do. it cannot change the way I feel about it morally, but legally and practically, I’ve got to recognize that fact. It is a dilemma that I’m not totally comfortable with, but that’s the best I can do in resolving it in my own mind.”
I’m hard pressed to see how this differs substantially from what Rudy has been saying recently.