Republican Presidential candidate Fred Thompson today announced his withdrawal from the 2008 Thursday Night FOX debate in Florida, causing wild speculation about the future of his campaign.

"I see this as a trial withdrawal for Fred," says Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times. "If all goes well, I can envision him attempting a withdrawal on a national scale, but that's a big if. These withdrawals rarely go as planned, and being a cautious man, Thompson may well opt to dive back in before he pulls out."

Paul Krugman at the NYT sees a strategic ploy at work in the announcement. "I think Thompson relishes the thought of watching this debate on TV. It gives him the opportunity to watch the other candidates up close, check out their strengths and vulnerabilities. Sure, he's TIVOed the other debates, but this sort of space gives him the capability to imagine that he is actually present, to think about what he might say if he was corporeally there, and to respond in language that he might otherwise be reluctant to use in front of a wider audience. And the other candidates don't have to listen to his drivel, so it's really a win-win situation."

2008, Mark Hoback



photo elements from AFP, Reuters, and The Gowanus Lounge