It looks to me like the much-anticipated moment when the Republican primary electorate discovers that Rudy Giuliani doesn't hate gay people and doesn't hate immigrants and they hate people who don't hate gay people or immigrants (indeed, he may even be soft on gay immigrants) has arrived. I think just about everyone who watched Fred Thompson's belated entry into the presidential campaign concluded that it was a bit clumsy and poorly handled. But despite the very flawed nature of the announcement, he's sprung into a statistical tie with Rudy Giuliani in the latest CNN poll: "The former New York mayor garners 28 percent nationally among registered Republicans, while Thompson is one point behind at 27 percent -- well within the poll's 5 percentage point margin of error."
Given that Giuliani's also running behind Mitt Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire, his campaign seems to me to be in big trouble. And that's very good news for the country, since in this instance the Republican who's probably the most electable one is also the one who scares me the most. Meanwhile, though people keep warning me about Fred Thompson's formidable political skills, I haven't really seen a ton of evidence for them yet.
All-in-all I continue to find it surprising that the press seems more interested in the Democratic primary (and I've heard conservatives complain about this, so I'm not making a partisan complaint), which seems frozen in a locked pattern, than in the much more fluid and objectively interesting GOP race. Normally, I find horse race coverage basically dull, but I think one has to admit that a race where two candidates are neck-in-neck in national polls while a third candidate leads in cash and the early primary states makes for a decent horse race. Meanwhile, McCain's still lurking in the background, hoping that re-inventing himself as Crazy Uncle Surge will somehow save him.
Photo by Flickr user Taylor Christian Jones used under a Creative Commons license.