The Future of Fred

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With his third place finish in South Carolina, a lot of us are just waiting for the announcement from Fred Thompson that the race, for him, is over.

Charles Bird blogs on RedState that Thompson should do the honorable thing by dropping out and endorsing McCain. McCain, in turn, would return the favor naming Thompson his running mate if nominated.

Thompson has enough support from social and economic conservatives to bring us a solid base going forward, especially if Thompson is a presumptive running mate. Unusual times call for unusual measures. If president cannot be had, I think most of us could agree that Thompson would be a helluva vice president.

That’s all great, but if the GOP nominates a rudderless moderate like McCain, reincarnating Reagan as veep would still result in an Obama or Clinton White House.

I think the best bet for Thompson is to stay in the race through Super Tuesday. I don’t think he will, but having tripled his fund-raising goal for South Carolina, he might have the capital to stick it out. Even if he can’t capture the nomination, he can serve as the anti-Huckabee candidate. (Malkin says Huckster’s gone already.)

Ed Morrissey disagrees with me.Β  He believes Fred’s done:

First, the failure of Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson to win in South Carolina signals the end of their campaigns, whether they recognize it or not, especially for Fred. He made South Carolina his explicit firewall, the place where he had to have a great showing in order to retain credibility as a candidate. A third-place finish among one of the most conservative groups of voters in the primaries does not bode well, nor does the fact that he actually placedΒ _fourth_among self-professed conservatives in the CNN exit polls. He became the first “front-runner” to fail to win a must-win contest, and he will likely withdraw sooner rather than later.

Finally, what of Romney? People I trust–like Rush, National Review, and friends– tell me Romney is the real deal. Like Bush 41, he moved away from his family’s Rockefeller Republican roots toward the Reagan branch of the party. Fine. He still seems smarmy.

*** UPDATE *** 1/20/08 3:53 p.m.

Uncle Jimbo on BlackFive calls out Kathryn Lopez of NRO The Corner. Lopez wrote that it’s time for Fred to quit the campaign. Writes Jimbo:

She and too many others want to knock people out of the race to clear the way for Romney and I am hard-pressed to take them seriously. Nobody has enough delegates to win anything, nobody has any unbeatable momentum, and nobody knows how this will turn out. So stop sounding like a partisan hack K-Lo and let the game go on.

I agree with Jimbo, of course. Thought Fred needs a miracle to win, I question Lopez’s motives. National Review endorsed Romney very early. The editors dismissed Thompson almost as summarily as they and other dismiss Ron Paul. Their actions hurt Thompson’s campaign, and they must feel some remorse. As long as Thompson remains in the campaign, he reminds them of the their retreat from principle.

Romney might make a fine president, but I don’t want to take the chance. I know Thompson would be better.