he GOP race has taken a turn for the tougher in the last 48 hours or so. Mitt Romney in a Washington Examiner interview
took a whack at Fred Thompson on Wednesday dishing out a trifecta of digs: he’s lazy, he’s a Washington insider and he’s sitting on the sidelines. Not surprisingly, some of Thompson’s opponents took their turn at bat the next day, commenting
not so favorably on Thompson’s memory and candor in the wake of the New York Times story which uncovered the Thompson billing records for his pro-choice lobbying client. Then the oh so helpful news clippings started to show up around the Right blogosphere pointing out Thompson’s past support for McCain Feingold, which he championed but luckily for him does not bear his name. Apparently it seemed like a good idea to the Rudy camp to highlight an issue on which Thompson is at odds with both legal and economic conservatives and this week put out a policy statement in favor of tort reform.
What is going on? It seems Thompson’s opponents have figured out several things: 1) While he is testing the waters they still can unleash the piranhas; 2) Thompson’s muddled response to the lobbying issue may have signaled that he is less than adept at this stage in fending off attacks and 3) There is no time like the present to knock Thompson down a peg or two and scoop up some of those McCain voters who may be shopping around for a new choice. This poses an interesting dilemma for the Thompson camp: if he is going to get attacked shouldn’t he get into the race, defend himself and define himself before voters start to say things like “oh, he’s the lobbyist who likes trial lawyers”? It is rule one in politics that if you don’t define yourself, others will. I think the “others” started this week.