The consensus on former senator Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.: He "performed just well enough at Tuesday's Republican debate in Dearborn, Mich., to keep his nascent presidential campaign alive and lurching forward," Time's James Carney writes. But: "His suit jacket was too large, leaving a gap between his neck and collar that conveyed an image of incipient frailty. His campaign is hoping he comes across as Reaganesque, but not in this way. Last night, at times, he did look a bit like Reagan did -- in his first debate against Walter Mondale in 1984, when Reagan seemed out of touch and overmatched."
"Fred Thompson did great in that debate! He stayed upright the whole time! And he knew the name of the prime minister of Canada! No question, this man is ready to lead," Gail Collins writes in her New York Times column. "All actors, it seems, are not Ronald Reagan. Thompson not only isn't charismatic, he doesn't even seem pleasant. If Fred is a man of the people, I am Jennifer Lopez."
Des Moines Register columnist Marc Hansen focuses on Iowans who have given up on Thompson because of his late start and his campaign's seeming lack of organization. "I spent two weeks trying to find him," says 49-year-old Chuck Davis, who is now impressed with Romney. "Now I'm asking myself if I was more attracted to the character he was playing on TV."
Thompson sits down with ABC's Charlie Gibson tonight in the next installment of the "Who Is?" weekly political feature on "World News." "Never occurred to me that I had to be anything," Thompson says of his childhood.
And this on his time with the Watergate committee: "You're supposed to participate in the investigation and do the right thing. And that was my prosecutor experience. But you were also supposed to make sure that there was not overreaching and unfairness along with it. Sometimes when all the political forces and all the media and everyone gang up on one side it seems like you can kind of run roughshod over things and people's rights."
If this whole presidential thing doesn't pan out, Thompson will always have his acting career to fall back on. Thompson earned $12.1 million since January 2006 "from his various entertainment-related gigs," Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel reports.
That's real money, but it's not Romney money. Romney has already dumped $17.4 million into his own campaign -- which puts him ahead of the much-maligned pace set by Steve Forbes in both 1995 and 1999, ABC's Jake Tapper reports. "Multimillionaire Steve Forbes was the subject of quite a bit of scorn among GOP political circles for the multimillion-dollar loans he gave his quixotic campaigns for the presidency in 1996 and 2000," Tapper writes. "Less discussed in the 2008 presidential contest is the fact that multimillionaire former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is now outpacing Forbes in self-loans."
Romney had an uncomfortable campaign encounter yesterday, where a student accused Romney of trying to "pull the gay card, the gay-friend card," ABC's Matt Stuart reports. And how about this line from Romney -- who of course wants "strict constructionist" judges? "Even if he thought it was unconstitutional he shouldn't a fought it," Romney said, referring to Giuliani's lawsuit against the line-item veto.
Judging by the campaign schedules, "The Republican field is all-but-ceding the Iowa caucuses to Mitt Romney," Washingtonpost.com's Chris Cillizza writes.