Fred Thompson paid a visit to New Hampshire this week, his first as a certain presidential candidate — and he got a taste of what media coverage would be like from this point forward. One reporter from McClatchy did his best to pour cold water on Fred’s appearance, while the New Hampshire Union-Leader’s editorial page editor pronounced it a rousing success.
First, McClatchy’s Steve Thomma focused on the brevity that was the soul of Fred’s wit:
When Fred Thompson made his debut on the presidential stage here this week, he left some Republicans thinking he needs more work before his nascent campaign matches the media hype it’s gotten in advance.
The former Tennessee senator with the baritone drawl showed up Thursday in New Hampshire, the site of the first primary voting, and gave a speech that lasted only nine minutes, skipping over hot-button issues such as Iraq and immigration to invoke platitudes about freedom and strength.
He left more than a few Republicans disappointed.
“Platitudes about freedom and strength…” No loaded language there! Thomma quotes one attendee about his disappointment with the short speech, and characterizes another quote by the same person as having been said “dismissively”. It’s a strange news article; it reads more like an op-ed column.
If readers want an op-ed column, they may be better served by going to the state’s most well-known paper and its editorial page editor. Andrew Cline noticed that Fred didn’t just make a nine-minute stop in New Hampshire but had campaigned there all day. Cline has a different opinion of the brief fund-raising appearance, too:
Before the evening event on their behalf, Thompson made the rounds like an experienced presidential candidate.
He hit the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he met with publisher Joe McQuaid before touring the newsroom, had a tuna sandwich at the Merrimack Restaurant in downtown Manchester (where all candidates seem to be required by the secretary of state’s office to eat at some point) and stopped for a chat at a Hooksett gun shop.
Thompson’s evening speech at the Wayfarer Inn was timed at all of nine minutes. It was enough to give N.H. Republicans a taste and touch on the usual conservative topics: smaller government, lower taxes, federalism and winning the war against terrorists.
But Thompson added his own twist in this state where registered independents outnumber Republicans: “I think we can form a new coalition of Republicans and independents and some Democrats. If we do the right thing, we’ll be a magnet for people of all beliefs about all kinds of issues, but [who] basically [hold] their country’s issues first and foremost, and that’s the thing that we’ll have in common.”
Well, that sounds quite a bit more substantive than the actual news report from McClatchy, doesn’t it? Fred spent the day touring the Granite State, meeting people and conferring with the state’s largest newspaper. He then appeared at a benefit for state GOP candidates — not for his own candidacy — and talked about shared values and how we could build a coalition of New Hampshire voters to support them.
Maybe McClatchy should ask Cline to handle their actual reporting in the future, and send Thomma back to a less-biased beat.