In my view the best case you can make for Thomson is that he’s the only Republican candidate capable of unifying the party. We know the Democrats will be unified. Whatever happens during the primary, they will rally around their nominee, because they are desperate to take back the White House. Republicans, however, are still sniping at one another, and each of the current top three candidates has something about him that bothers a portion of the party. A contingent of social conservatives won’t accept Rudy, even if Romney wins the nomination a lot of Republicans will still be fed up with his inauthenticity, and McCain, well, he’s McCain. But Thompson could be the one candidate that the entire party can get behind. He may not be everybody’s first choice, but he isn’t going to anger one group of Republicans so much that they’ll want "Anybody But Fred." At least Thompson has that potential. That should be one of his main selling points.
This gives me the moment to return to a discussion that I had left. Where goes the coalition? As always, let’s start with a little history. In 1964, Barry Goldwater was drafted to run for President. Indications are that he wasn’t that interested, like Fred, but got wooed. Accepting Phil’s theory, unlike Fred, Goldwater did not unify the party at all. Jacob Javits, the Republican-Liberal fusion Senator from New York, the same fusion that got Rudy Giuliani elected, wrote a book attacking Goldwater’s ghost-written Conscience of a Conservative. The liberal Rockefeller Republicans tried to draft PA Governor Scranton and Mitt Romney’s dad, MI Governor George Romney, to run against Goldwater.
The upshot is that in 1964, the party was not unified. The party emerged stronger, after a period in the wilderness. So why do we need to be unified?
One answer might be that we have to win, because the consequences are so large. This president will have a huge impact on how we deal with the challenges facing our country. For example, globalization, terrorism, entitlements, healthcare and education (ties with globalization) are the big problems that we need to face. There is also a significant argument that the decisive moment in moving the court to the right could occur in the next term under a Republican president. Can we trust Democrats on these? For the most part no.
The Goldwater campaign and the GOP had the luxury in 1964 of having no chance of winning. So they could take care of their internal problems and rearrange the party and the coalition.
The problem with a Goldwater moment is that no one knows what the party would mean. I haven’t the faintest idea to where this party would rally. And that is something that we Republicans and conservatives need to start working on.