If Leno’s audience is a cross section of America then about half the viewers are registered to vote. Phil is likely right– the NH debate probably had more registered voters(who else would suffer through one of these?) watching than did Leno. Here’s some more math: 200 X 2=400. According to Des Moines Register, that’s the total number Thompson got to turn out in Iowa at the two events. The Washington Post lost no time in pointing out Obama had 15,000 for his first event. But isn’t there more to a campaign than raising a lot of money, turning out big crowds, coming up with policy proposals, and keeping staff for more than two weeks in a row? I’m thinking, I’m thinking…
Beyond the numbers, Rich Lowry and David Keene of American Conservative Union raise some questions on the “consistent conservative” line. Keene remarks: “He may not have taken many positions that will be subject to open attack, but neither has his record produced any real bragging rights.The way in which he’s tried to handle the conservative criticism of his role in passing the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation while he was in the Senate, however, does not make one feel particularly sanguine about his chances.” Lowry is more measured, noting of his record: “Thompson has a more consistent conservative record than Romney or Giuliani. But, a product of the moderate-conservative Tennessee GOP, he was never a firebrand either. In the gotcha environment of the primary race, Thompson will have to defend past heterodoxies on abortion, immigration, campaign-finance reform and tort reform. The deeper problem, though, is that what ails the Republican Party isn’t a lack of down-the-line conservatism. Republicans need more fresh thinking, and Thompson’s devotion to federalism emphatically doesn’t count. In terms of domestic policy, the best news in the Republican race so far is that Romney and Giuliani have offered forward-looking health-care proposals. Thompson will have to excel in the ideas race rather than rest on a conservative voting record.”
UPDATE: Another report that Thompson improved at his second stop.
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