The entry of Thompson, who would immediately stake out a position in the mainstream of conservatives, will probably be the final blow to the McCain campaign. Then the question becomes, can Thompson outmaneuver Romney and become the conservative alternative to the more liberal Guiliani?
It depends on Thompson’s ability to fulfill the great expectation of his candidacy, the belief in Thompson’s ability to be the next “great communicator.” The possibility has excited conservatives and has given Thompson competitive polling numbers even though he has not been in the race. Thompson excited Republicans when he took on left-wing filmmaker and demagogue Michael Moore head on over the Internet. At last, it was thought, one of our politicians who was willing to take the fight to “them.”
The stakes of Thompson’s ability to craft his image then are much higher than that of other candidates. If he should stumble shortly after his announcement and be seen as less polished than Romney, Thompson’s campaign loses much of its raison d’etre. His fall could come more quickly and more spectacularly than McCain’s.