The campaign is trying to beat back this notion that there's an enthusiasm gap. Its e-campaign director sent out a memo last night claiming:
-- Since 12:01 am last night, over 150,000 unique visitors have viewed its website. Some points of comparison: Mitt Romney's website registered 124,000 visitors in July; Rudy Giuliani's website registered 116,000 visitors over the same 31 day period; John McCain's website registered 104,000 visitors in July
-- Also, since 12:01 am last night, over 3000 donors have donated online
-- Lastly, 16,000 new "Friends of Fred" have signed up to volunteer for Fred's campaign."
On "GMA" this morning, Thompson didn't commit any news, but he seemed to take a shot at Romney when asked if the former Massachusetts governor was running TV ads showing him running as a way to compare his health and vigor to Thompson. Thompson responded that he'd seen these Romney ads and wondered, "What's he running from?" Thompson was very deliberative in the interview, the same Thompson we've become familiar with.
Thompson manager Bill Lacy held a bus gaggle yesterday, and here are some highlights, courtesy of NBC/National Journal campaign reporter Adam Aigner-Treworgy. Lacy said the campaign raised $363,000 since midnight two nights ago.
Lacy also made the claim that there really isn't a strong GOP frontrunner, saying there's a huge undecided out there. "Our party traditionally has a very, very strong front-runner, basically since Reagan, but this year it's wide open. Now we've done one piece of research, John McLaughlin our pollster has done one piece of research, and we believe this race is wide open."
Lacy on Giuliani's criticism of Thompson that he's never held an executive position: "I understand where he's coming from, the mayor has to make as good a case as he can, and he has been a big city mayor and no one can poo-poo that, but he's never been in an executive position even comparable to being President."
The Washington Post says Thompson "took his bid for the White House to the campaign trail Thursday, vowing to compete aggressively for the support of Iowans and pitching steady, experienced and conservative leadership… In Thursday's speech, he pledged fidelity to a series of conservative principles -- limited government, an aggressive foreign policy and lower taxes -- and promised a commitment to securing the borders and appointing conservative judges."
The New York Times looks at Thompson's attempt to "don the Reagan mantle" and finds while he's certainly conservative on many issues, he's diverged from the Reagan path quite a bit as well.
The Los Angeles Times on the turnout: "The crowd was relatively thin for the national launch of a celebrity's bid for the White House. "Middle of the workday," explained Robert Haus, Thompson's Iowa campaign director. But that did not stop Thompson from declaring: "Wow. This is a wonderful turnout."
The Des Moines Register's Yepsen called Thompson's announcement "underwhelming" and added: "It wasn't very impressive. The crowd of a few hundred didn't seem enthused. Thompson's oratory didn't soar but was somewhat rambling. He would have been better off just to repeat the announcement statement he posted on his Web site. It is much better written and cogently delivered." And here's some strategy advice: "As the Thompson campaign winds it's way across Iowa for the next two days, the actor might want to work on his lines. Punch up the message. Lose the note cards. Pump up the volume. Give us a little stump oratory. And how about a specific policy initiative or two?"
Should Thompson be upset that he's not even getting the most Republican Hollywood support? Apparently, Giuliani has more support for Hollywood types.
The Boston Globe says, "Rival campaigns have already prepared thick dossiers of 'opposition research' chronicling the former Tennessee senator's zigzags on such key issues as abortion rights, immigration, a gay marriage ban, and campaign finance reform