Fred Thompson appeared on Thursday night at the Connecticut Republican Party’s annual fundraising dinner. He sold out the joint in Stamford, and it sounds like he hit a home run.
Ryan Sager of the New York Sun, who quickly is becoming the lead 2008 campaign reporter — not a commentator, though he does that on his newly expanded blog space, but a real reporter — had the initial report first. You can read it here.
According to Thompson advisers, this was intended to be more of a campaign style speech, and is leading into what should be an interesting Virginia Republican event in Richmond next weekend. Party Chairman Ed Gillespie expects to have close to a 1,000 attendees at his event. A real rally by any standards. The Connecticut event had sold more than 700 seats.
Thompson hit on what appear to be core themes to his early foray: national security, lower taxes, smaller, more competetent government, and the need for conservatives rally to the flag and help the Republican Party charge the political hill for victory.
He stumbled at a couple of junctures last night, signs that he’s still getting comfortable with his material, which appeared to be written on a few notecards. As with his recent efforts, he seems to be speaking less from a script and more from the heart, all good. But folks should remember that Thompson hasn’t been on the campaign trail in close to five years (he chose not to seek re-election in 2002). He’s getting his sea legs back.
And judging by recent poll numbers — Thompson, for example is burying Romney and McCain in Florida — and straw poll results (he lapped the competition in the Georgia GOP straw poll last weekend), once he shakes the rust off, he will be ready to hop into the primary race.