Did Fred Thompson Lose His Way Online?

Originally published at Beltway Blogroll

About a year ago, Fred Thompson began making a presidential splash online.

After bloggers started talking up the possibilities of the actor and former Republican senator running for president, Thompson won a high-profile endorsement from a fellow Tennessean, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Then all of a sudden, Thompson started popping up all over the Internet.

He posted a guest blog entry on RedState and earned mainstream media attention for “blogging up a storm“; he picked a public video fight with liberal filmmaker Michael Moore; and he tapped some big names in new media to help spearhead his online activities.

I even mentioned Thompson’s online non-campaign as a “bright spot” in GOP e-politics when interviewed by The Washington Post.

All of that early work on the Web came to naught this week when Thompson ended his presidential campaign (arguably a bit too soon), and one blogger thinks Thompson faltered because he lost his innovative way.

Thompson “was strong with new media, but then he abandoned it. … I don’t know what happened,” Roger Simon, the head of Pajamas Media, told The Washington Times. “I think some of the misfire of his campaign is that he didn’t stay with that initial impulse.”

I’m not sure how on the mark that analysis is. Thompson’s campaign seems to have faltered for more traditional reasons — poor strategy, bad staffing decisions, lousy timing (he took forever to get into the race), lack of money and the failure to overcome the image of Thompson as a lazy campaigner. But the reality is that Thompson’s approach to the race changed after he became an official candidate.

That probably had more to do with the realities of presidential campaigning than a conscious decision to go old school. Who has time to blog when traveling across the country to greet voters and raise money? But the end result is that the man who once held out promise of becoming the nation’s first blogger-in-chief finished the GOP race as a disappointing also-ran.

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