The first signs of a response from the Thompson campaign came today in an article from Campaigns and Elections magazine:
Local Republicans Get Behind Huckabee-Thompson DebateInterestingly enough, Stephen Douglas was the one who won the election between him and Lincoln, but I guess you can't expect the Thompson campaign to know that. Humor aside, it's the American people who really win when two candidates come together to discuss and debate the key issues of the day.
September 10, 2007
When members of the Strafford County Republican Women heard that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee wanted to debate former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., in a Lincoln-Douglas style event in New Hampshire, the group felt it was an offer they couldn't pass up.
The Strafford County Republican Women group is part of the statewide New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women... In the past few days, the women have found themselves in the middle of a national political story that continues to involve more and more organizations by the day. According to the Huckabee campaign, CNN's Wolf Blitzer told the former governor in a recent interview that CNN would be happy to sponsor a Thompson-Huckabee debate as well.
On Saturday, members of both groups were at the Seacoast Federation of Republican Women's annual Chili Fest fundraiser, where Thompson held his first New Hampshire event since announcing his candidacy. As the crowd waited for Thompson's arrival in the rain, SCRW members handed out press releases announcing the debate and that Huckabee was already on board. Smith said they have not heard officially from the campaign, but she did talk to Thompson after the debate.
"I asked him to join us, and he said, ‘Only if I can be Lincoln,'" she said.
Debra Vanderbeek, the New Hampshire campaign manager for Huckabee, said that, to her knowledge, the Thompson campaign has not formally replied to the former governor's letter.
"This is the first I've heard about them being involved at all," said Jeff Sadosky, a spokesperson for the Thompson campaign. Now that the former senator and television star has officially announced his candidacy, he will start making decisions about which events, debates and forums he will attend, said Sadosky.
"I don't know if Mike Huckabee wants to be playing the roll of Stephen Douglas on this one," Sadosky added.
Smith said if Thompson does say yes to the debate, it would likely be held at the University of New Hampshire.
It's encouraging to hear hints that Fred understands this and is not brushing off Huckabee's invitation. But as with his campaign thus far, let's hope he can get beyond hints and can lead, as a president should, by example. We're waiting for you, Fred.
To co-sign the letter inviting Thompson to debate, click here.