At a National Press Club lunch featuring top women staffers from all the major GOP presidential campaigns, one line rang out above all others — at least to the ears of our Ana Marie Cox, who was in attendance. Ana fired an email from her table alerting us that Karen Hanretty of Fred Thompson’s campaign delivered this accidental gem:
Fred will never rush us into war because Fred never rushes into anything.
We believe Hanretty’s humor was inadvertent, since she was trying to make a point about her candidate’s methodical decision-making process. But the line drew guffaws from journos in the room.
Speaking of slow movement, Thompson has just launched his television ad campaign with 60- and 30-second spots that are said to be airing both in Iowa markets and nationally on Fox News Channel. Entitled “Consistent Conservative”, the spots effectively exploit Thompson’s talent for the down-home and folksy, featuring the candidate in a diner talking directly into the camera. The key line (in the longer version): “My friends, we must remember that our rights come from God and not from government.”
Within the context of the ad, that line is untethered — a vague assertion floating out there to be interpreted by the viewer and listener. At one level, the statement is unassailable: the Declaration states that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,…among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But its denigration of government’s role in the matter of rights is obviously deliberate. Does Thompson, who put his legal degree to use for decades as a prosecutor, lawmaker and lobbyist, really believe that the role of government — or man, for that matter — in establishing, enforcing and protecting those rights is secondary and insignificant? I doubt it. More likely is that the line is a propitiatory offering — deliberately vague but carefully targeted — meant to reassure religious conservative voters about Thompson, who, among other affronts, recently admitted he doesn’t attend church regularly. Here’s the 60-second version of the ad:
UPDATE: One other nugget from the unconventional world of Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign comes to us from the Daily Telegraph (via Drudge). This one actually makes me appreciate Thompson for the fact that he does not suffer the inflated sense of self that plagues so many pols and would-be presidents.