But after a sluggish start, Thompson has sensed an opening in Iowa, and he's moving decisively to exploit it. The opening arises from a combination of Romney's changes of position on social issues and Huckabee's stumbles on foreign-policy questions and immigration.
After his winning performance in the Des Moines Register's debate, Thompson has embarked on a lengthy bus tour of the state. During these final days, his campaign says he'll hold events in 50 communities and will visit 54 of the 99 counties.
On Monday, he picked up the surprise endorsement of Congressman Steve King. Of all the endorsements flying around these days, that one could move the most numbers. It sends a powerful signal from one of Iowa's most conservative leaders to others on the right around the state: We've now got a horse we can ride.
DAVID YEPSEN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 284-8545.