Looking for an early read on how well Fred Thompson did on today's debate (I wasn't able to watch) I found this commentary on MSNBC.com from NBC's Chuck Todd:
This debate will be known for two things: 1) an uneven debut for Thompson; the opening answer he gave was that of a VERY nervous first-time candidate and there was a noticeable pause that was striking in a bad way; every evening newscast grabbed that moment and because of that some may believe Thompson's performance was worse than it actually was. 2) these candidates were ALL uncomfortable having to answer some detailed, non-soundbite applicable questions. The candidates better be glad most of the rest of the debates will be on general topics rather than focused on the economy where clearly these guys didn't do their homework.
Outside of the Thompson debut (which did get better as the debate went on but was still unsteady at too many moments to quiet critics), it's hard to see how any of the other candidates will go up or down based on their performance today. Giuliani and Romney stood out as they just seemed more comfortable with the main topic of this debate, the economy. Plus, the two clashed a bit over the line-item veto, a fascinating distinction that apparently will be decided in the courts instead of the ballot box.[...]
But it's important to go back to Thompson because this debate was about him. Bottom line: he's got a lot of work to do. He did get better but I doubt he quieted critics; He was more on top of the issues than some may have tough but was he really a frontrunner when it comes to knowing what the issues are? That's the BIGGER question.
But after watching this clip my opinion is that Fat-Head Fred failed, big time.
Comunications coach Bert Decker comments:
Some say he is laconic, but I think he appeared uncomfortable, as shown by head nodding and his 'ums' and 'ahs' - these were continuous. That was very surprising, as were the lack of focus, conviction and directness shown in his eyes darting about. Compare him in this clip with Mitt Romney - particularly with voice and eyes.
Listen to the rattle in his voice. That's a sign of stress, and the pregnant pause is a total loss of concentration. This guy is dropping poopy bricks in his BVDs on national television right before your eyes... and compare him to Romney's polish and self-confidence.
Sounds like Fat-Head Fred was a really nervous. Heck, you'd think a guy used to play-acting in front of cameras would be at ease, but this is Fred's biggest audition to date so some stage jitters are understandable... given that he's just pretending to be presidential.
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