July 30, 2007

Fred Flop Or First Fruits?

Apparently, three million dollars doesn't go as far as it used to go. According to The Politico, that's how much money Thompson raised in his first month as an official non-candidate. The number comes a little south of expectations, which has some people in panic mode prematurely:

Fred Thompson plans to announce Tuesday that his committee to test the waters for a Republican presidential campaign raised slightly more than $3 million in June, substantially less than some backers had hoped, according to Republican sources.

Thompson plans to make the disclosure in a filing with the Internal Revenue Service, as he continues to operate his prospective campaign as a political organization that does not require disclosure to the Federal Election Commission. ...

Some are already saying a prospective Thompson run is a flop. “I just don’t see it anymore,” said a key Republican who had been extremely enthusiastic about a Thompson candidacy.

"That number is really underwhelming. There were indications it could be double that. They've been saying that people were waiting for Fred, and the money was going to pour in. He looks like he's already losing momentum."

The situation needs a little historical context, the Thompson campaign insists. They sent around a response just a few minutes ago, pointing out that Thompson did pretty well -- compared to the exploratory fundraising of the current frontrunners. Rudy Giuliani only raised $258,660 in his first 30 days, and John McCain pulled in $1,130,351 in his first month. They also point out that Mitt Romney loaned his campaign $850,000 during the exploratory phase.

Exploratory candidates have somewhat ambiguous limits on the total funds they can raise as well. The FEC rules stipulate that they have to stay within "what could reasonably be expected to be used for exploratory activities”, a clause that the folks at DailyKos accused Thompson of violating. The Fred team points out that The Politico just covered that story about three weeks ago.

I recall hearing that the expectation out of the gate was $5 million, which would have been a substantial number for a non-candidate. That number may not have come from the Fred campaign itself but political analysts gauging what Fred would need for a running start. In that sense, three million would be disappointing, but that's only if one buys that analysis. Given his status and the limitations of his fundraising activities, this is not a bad number.

We already know the Q2 fundraising for the current candidates. Extrapolating his fundraising to a full quarter, Fred would have raised $9 million as a non-candidate. That's what John Edwards raised in Q2 as a top-tier Democratic candidate, and only $2 million below John McCain. Had he met the $5 million goal, he would have outraised Romney and come just below Giuliani.

I think that Fred has no reason to panic. In fact, I'm a little suspicious of these themes of impending disaster halfway through the year before the primaries, especially for candidates and non-candidates who draft double-digit support in national polling.

UPDATE: Mark Tapscott concurs:

There is also a technical term for a supposedly high-ranking GOP operative who would so quickly conclude that $3 million raised in 26 days for an unannounced candidate is evidence of "a flop." That technical term is "unvarnished garbage." No truly experienced national political operative would make such a claim, unless he was talking to a reporter looking for a quote that serves somebody's agenda.


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Comments (26)

Posted by filistro | July 30, 2007 5:14 PM

Oh, those midnight doubts that haunt the trembling soul...

Does he love me as much as I love him? Will he EVER call? Is he really just a lazy bum like my dad says? Omigawd, why can't I stop thinking about his sexy little smile, his sparkly blue eyes...


Like Gene Pitney sang back in the '60's... "It Hurts To Be In Love..."

Posted by Captain Ed | July 30, 2007 5:18 PM

Er ... what?

Put down the bong pipe and slowly back away ....

Posted by filistro | July 30, 2007 5:22 PM

Bong pipe?

FredHeads increasingly come across like teenagers with a breathless crush on the captain of the football team.

Right now it's just funny. But If he dithers much longer it's going to get really silly.

Posted by Captain Ed | July 30, 2007 5:35 PM

Yes, now I recall how I wooed young ladies by extrapolating fundraising performances and comparing them to similar efforts. That detailed political analysis really drove 'em wild.

Filistro .. just say no. Really.

Posted by James | July 30, 2007 5:42 PM

Geraghty was told over a month ago that five million was unrealistic by the Thompson campaign.


Thompson's place in the polls he earned without spending a dime. One wonders what we will happen when he does start spending money.

Posted by filistro | July 30, 2007 5:56 PM


I'm no longer young but definitely a lady... and I must say that speaking just for myself, extrapolation gets to me every time :-)

If you were one of my daughters I would say... Forget this guy. He's not worthy of you. He's just going to break your heart. I've seen his like so many times before, and they never change....

And now, in true ladylike fashion, I will fold my parasol and post no more to this thread.

Posted by markg8 | July 30, 2007 6:29 PM

That's not Aqua Velva or English Leather you smell. It's the gin coming out of his pores through the flop sweat.

Posted by Dark Horse | July 30, 2007 7:02 PM

Whenever Fred Thompson makes an appearance on a news outlet, whether cable or network, he so overshadows everybody in the race you can just see the check books coming out. One ten minute appearance by Fred last week on Fox News made Hillary and Obama look like kindergarten kids trying to play high school

Posted by Bill Faith | July 30, 2007 7:23 PM

Fear the Fred! Dunno if it's Rudy McRomney or one of the Dims but someone's still wasting a lot of time trying to make FDT look bad.

Jim Geraghty's related post at The Kerry Hillary Campaign spot is well worth a trip over there to read.

I linked.

Posted by Bill Faith | July 30, 2007 7:30 PM

Review is your friend, Bill. Note to self: Captain Ed's comment system doesn't recognize strikethroughs. Oops,.

Posted by Streaker | July 30, 2007 9:10 PM

If it appears in an Opus comic strip it must be true!

Fred Thompson seems to be garnering an awful lot of attention, from those curious about him as a candidate and those who would be his opponents.

It looks like Thompson has a fairly good stride leaving the gate.

Posted by burt | July 30, 2007 9:26 PM

Donald Lambro has a piece about the over the top blather about primary money in todays Washington Times.


"By the end of fourth-quarter 2003, just days before the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Dean had raked in $14 million more. Cash-strapped Sen. John Kerry reported raising an anemic $2.5 million. But Mr. Kerry trounced Mr. Dean in back-to-back contests in Iowa and New Hampshire and went on to win the nomination."

Posted by Rose | July 30, 2007 9:59 PM

UPDATE: Mark Tapscott concurs:

There is also a technical term for a supposedly high-ranking GOP operative who would so quickly conclude that $3 million raised in 26 days for an unannounced candidate is evidence of "a flop." That technical term is "unvarnished garbage." No truly experienced national political operative would make such a claim, unless he was talking to a reporter looking for a quote that serves somebody's agenda.


I would heartily agree, if this were AT LEAST ONE FULL YEAR BEFORE THE PRIMARIES - but it is NOT - and THAT was also Fred's choice - yet the imperitive remains that any one entering now or later must STILL make up the goods by the time the others have it.

Those making excuses for Fred now act as if he has the same length of time on a stop watch to cross the finish line from the starting line as the winning horse - but the horse that doesn't start at the same time as the winning horse ONLY HAS THE AMOUNT OF TIME until that MONENT ON THE CALENDAR WHEN THE WINNING HORSE CROSSES THAT LINE - not the same minutes or seconds it took the winning horse.

Maybe Rudi and Mitt had longer to raise theirs, but the race is over for Fred when it is over for the rest of the GOP candidates - he doesn't have 6 -10 months extra, because he made up his mind later.

All Fred's supporters knew that when they started encouraging him to jump in - and they haven't come through for him. FACT.

This isn't a thing where any legitimate authorities on any track can measure any man's ability at any time to make a 4 minute mile run!

Fred has to be able to finish at the Primaries.

He chose to leave the locker room when the starter shot was fired, trot to the starting line and think about getting into the blocks, the race is on - if he cannot catch up with the rest of the horses now, he isn't going to in 6 months.

Unless a Sugar Daddy shows up capable of picking him up by the neck and setting him down in the midst of the pack again.
Maybe some dying billionaire will leave him his fortune and kick on off in the next few weeks.

In the interest of full disclosure, I wouldn't vote for Fred anyway if he were the only man in the race. Period.

Posted by Carol Herman | July 30, 2007 11:07 PM

I don't think it's the money!

Everything that Fred Thompson has, now, he EARNED on the Net.

In other words his approach is to utilize support from Conservatives. Not state by state, though. But on the Net. And, he's literate. He writes essays that get published.

So even when there seems to be "slippage'' Fred Thompson stays up there where his name gets mentioned. And, he's certainly not down in the toilet with John McCain!

The other problem is that Tommy Thompson, former governor of Wisconsin, I think; is also one of the guys still on the stage. In the single digits.

It's also possible that Guiliani is so far ahead, now, that what Fred Thompson could hope for is the veep slot. And, all he has to do is race well enough among Conservatives so that when Guiliani announces who he'd pick; Fred Thompson could be there.

Newt Gingrich, who has called the current GOP nominees "midgets" ... Has also said that if the GOP picks Guiliani, Romney, or Fred Thompson, he will NOT apply for the nomination, himself.

It's also early. It's still the summer. And, there's lots of room for Fred to keep "testing the waters," since it appears he wants to announce closer to the start of 2008.

As to people making up their minds that they won't vote for this one or that one on the GOP ticket, I am reminded that the Bonkeys are gonna be running Hillary and Obama. And, I think this will affect the race so much; that a lot of people with be voting for the GOP, even if they have to hold their noses.

It's happened before.

And, I do believe Fred Thompson is trying to achieve a written record. Where his essays get published on the Net.

Abraham Lincoln, back in 1860, decided not to campaign at all. He figured every interaction he'd have on the campaign trail would be frought with danger; and the name calling that was going on at that time.

Lincoln worked hard building a national reputation.

If I had to guess, Fred Thompson, using his pen and writing essays that get published on the Net has found a way to keep himself in play. If $3-million-dollars looks like a small amount to you, it's not if you're running frugally.

Posted by Blair | July 31, 2007 5:24 AM

Fred Thompson did do better than Guiliani, Mccain, and Romney did over 6 months ago, true. But they are simply raising more money than him right now and since he raised very little money before now, it's on him to not only match them but beat them. And $3M/month doesn't cut it. Money isn't everything, but it makes everything else much easier.

By the way, it is ridiculous to see people claiming that bad news here is actually good news because it means the "Dems/MSM" are afraid and trying to sabotage Fred. Sometimes bad news is just bad news people.

Posted by Pickles | July 31, 2007 6:54 AM

I don't know about anyone else, but I'd be a lot more willing to donate to Fred Thompson's campaign if he'd actually declare. I'm not going to donate to someone who might not end up running after all - though I'm also getting burnt out on politics already.

Posted by Ron C | July 31, 2007 7:25 AM

Well, I'm betting the nay-sayers here will have to eat their words (or worms) - come about mid September, maybe early October.

Yeah - it might be THAT long before Fred actually declares - and that long to see the top GOP runners losing near double digits.

But, more importantly, that long to see the top Dems wading into deep doo about that time.

All the johnny-come-lately pundits here have a lot to learn.

Posted by james23 | July 31, 2007 7:53 AM

$3 million is pretty good, albeit way less than fredheads have predicted, *if* it is truly a measure of only 30 days effort. But there's the rub.

Ed, is the $ reported all that was raised in Thompson's first 30 days "exploring"? *or* is it all that was raised by the end of his first 30 days "exploring" that he wants to be able to use? Remember, Fred has been unofficially "exploring" since at least March. This could be more than 30 days' effort.

Posted by athingortwo | July 31, 2007 7:57 AM

I bestowed the honorific "Bagdad" to Dean Barnett awhile back for his blatherings about Romney being the "real frontrunner" because he leads the polls in two small states, out of 50, but conveniently ignores the fact that his guy is getting creamed everywhere else (accounting for his single digits performance in the national polls).

But maybe it's time for Dean to pass the mantle on, and let us begin referring to Captain Ed as "Bagdad Ed". Just keep on tellin' us, Bagdad Ed, how your man Fred is leading the polls in virtually no states (certainly none of the large ones), and having one's campaign organization suddenly implode last week because the professionals don't care to take orders from the comely Mrs. Fred, followed by the news of Thompson having an anemic "coming out" in the fundraising battle .... that all these facts together make your guy the obvious frontrunner.

Bagdad Ed!

Posted by athingortwo | July 31, 2007 8:08 AM

I do seem to recall the breathless reporting by the Fred-heads back when their man announced that he would someday announce something or other that would be annnounce-able, sorta maybe, someday .... anyway, back in the day when Thompson was legally able to start rasing money.

Anyway, the breathless annoucement that was splashed across the blogwaves was that Thompson was bringing in ten thousand dollars an hour from his website.

Gee, apparently that pace represented little more than a short spurt of enthusiasm, because at ten grand an hour, just from the web alone Thompson should have put up more than seven million in the first month .. plus whatever he was collecting from the more traditional fundraisers.

Wha' happened, Fred?

Posted by jdwhit | July 31, 2007 9:54 AM

Let me get the jest of all this negativism. Fred finally publicly indicates that he is more than likely going to run in May. Starts collecting money for exploratory purposes in June and in the first 28 days collects 3 million. He is not yet a candidate, is running in double digits in the polls, and is out collecting the “Breck Girl” a “Top Tier Dem”: yet his “non campaign” is now over.

Wake up people, Fred Thompson could easily win the Repubs nomination. Traditionally it is still very early to declare and the only people that are paying attention now are the political junkies like you and I. When Fred declares, and starts engaging other candidates and starts spending money, I believe he could become the front-runner in a matter of weeks. Just look at the negative press and the shots that have already been fired at a non-candidate, some people are very afraid of him.

Posted by james23 | July 31, 2007 10:26 AM

Fred! Comments that have been posted to excess, which I hope never to read again:
1-Fred is a non-candidate;
2-its still too early, no one is paying attention;
3-the press is attacking Fred mercilessly;
4-libs, dems, in fact, everyone but Fredheads, "fear" Fred, hence the attacks;
5-people who aren't on the Fredwagon are libs or dems;
6-none of the other candidates are true conservatives; Fred is the only conservative
7-Fred is a great communicator, a la Reagan

Posted by Concerned | July 31, 2007 10:29 AM

There are many Republicans, like me, who are concerned about the viability of Fred Thompson.

Why didn’t he announce on July 4th?

It seems to me that Fred is using the unannounced candidate excuse for everything. Hillary is going to raise over $100 million this year and that is something we cannot ignore.

Posted by FedUp | July 31, 2007 12:04 PM

James23.. I wholeheartedly agree. So, let's start a Newt/Joe Lieberman ticket!

Posted by JAF | July 31, 2007 2:27 PM

Thompson has so far:

1) raised nearly half the amount his own campaign said he would

2) fired his campaign manager and another senior staffer. and the senior researcher quit

3) insulted Cubans in Florida by lumping them into the War on Terror regarding illegal immigration

4) hired Spencer Abraham as his new campaign guru: a guy who was the most anti-Israel in the Congress, supported Shamnesty and lost in Michigan

5) denied he lobbied for pro-abortion groups, then said he wouldn't answer the questions, then when faced with billing records said it was only 23 hours of work

6) initially put his hat in the ring last MARCH, and will take 6 months of hiding on the sidelines rather than being scrutinized like EVERY OTHER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE.

is there a reason some in the GOP would want to put up a guy who doesn't work very hard to try and beat Hillary Clinton?!!