What Thompson has going for him in this fight is that of all the top tier candidates, he is the best-positioned to make the calculating, flip-flopper label stick to Romney. While Romney has to some extent been able to fend off this criticism from McCain or Giuliani by saying, essentially, “hey, at least I’m more conservative than the other guys,” it will be a lot harder for him to use a similar strategy with Thompson. Though Thompson doesn’t have a perfect conservative record, his pro-life votes, his mostly solid record on spending, taxes and gun rights will make it hard for Romney to portray him as a liberal. Furthermore, fair or not, there is the cultural factor. Romney, the wealthy businessman from the Northeast, fits the profile of a Rockefeller Republican, while Thompson’s Southern accent and folksy charm create the impression that he is a social conservative. This latest incident with the possible Romney-linked Website reinforces Thompson’s narrative that all these people who have been running for president since they were chior boys want to tear him down because he’s a threat and is not playing by their rules. Romney would be much better off hitting Thompson on the executive experience and tangible accomplishments front. He can subtly connect this to the frustration conservatives have with Bush-i.e. do they want to repeat the mistake of nominating a lovable dude who infuriates liberals but lacks managerial competence? With that said, I’ll never underestimate the appeal of folksiness, especially when the rest of the top tier are vulnerable. Jennifer writes that Thompson, “lacks the verbal acuity and precision to do well in press avails or townhalls,” but I would say it’s far too premature to render such a judgment.