After yesterday’s news of a Fred surge, it seemed peculiar that this morning’s news of him considering quitting if he didn’t finish strong in Iowa would hold any water. Nevertheless, the blogosphere is all over it.
Ahh, but Rest easy, Fredheads. Team Fred is strongly denying that he will call it quits if he finishes poorly in Iowa:
I just got off the phone with Rich Galen, a top adviser to Fred Thompson, and it would be an understatement to say that he is strongly denying the Politico story reporting that Thompson “will drop out of the race within days if he finishes poorly in Thursday’s caucus.”
Galen said that “just to make sure,” he checked with Thompson himself, who told him the story was not true. “We have the schedule for Saturday and Sunday in New Hampshire, and then we’re going down to South Carolina,” Galen told me.
Greg Bump at IowaPolitics.com says Fred is nowhere near quitting. It was all rumors:
GOP presidential hopeful Fred Thompson said in an in-studio interview with KCCI-TV in Des Moines that there is no truth to rumors that his campaign will fold before New Hampshire if he doesn’t have a strong showing in Iowa.
“That is absolutely made up out of whole cloth,” said the former U.S. Senator from Tennessee.
Thompson said a rival campaign was likely the source of that rumor.
“Can you imagine such a thing in politics?” he asked.
Thompson said his campaign is seeing a “surge” in interest right now, and said he has visited 50 communities in the Hawkeye State in the last couple weeks.
“I’m not going to play into any scenario that’s not totally optimistic,” he said.
Two items have sparked these rumors. First, the surprise announcement that Thompson needed a blogburst to run ads in Iowa exposed the campaign’s bare warchest. They need a strong finish in Iowa to convince donors to keep the flow of money up to a high enough level to buy ad time in South Carolina, where Fred has more strength. Second, Fred Thompson himself oddly raised expectations by saying he needed a second-place finish in tonight’s caucuses, a scenario that seems rather fantastic. A strong third would help, but not if the candidate himself believes he needs to place second or first.
Dropping out after Iowa would be completely unheard of politically. Some drop out weeks before Iowa, but if you make to Iowa, you can cruise to Super Tuesday when 23 states vote in a single day. And this is after a couple more states, like South Carolina and even Florida where Fred a good shot at second place. The only viable reason for dropping out now would be a depleted cash flow. But if that was the case he wouldn’t have scheduled campaign stops on Saturday in two different states.