7 p.m. CST – Russell Student Union, University of South Carolina: To call the mood here at the Thompson rally somber would be a grave understatement. The crowd is far smaller than the TV cameras will make it appear.
A girl at the front door, attempting to boost the turnout, is calling to passersby offering “beer, soda, chips and Fred Thompson.” So far, I have seen more than a few fraternity types come inside for a free beer and promptly leave.
As people first began filing in, the large screens were tuned to Fox News. The talking heads begin criticizing Thompson’s efforts and the channel is turned over to MSNBC. Once the MSNBC correspondents begin echoing the Fox News sentiments, the channel is again changed, this time to CNN. I have heard more than one crowd member complain that Thompson “deserved a better campaign.”
Thompson takes the stage and gives his concession speech. It is nearly identical to the one he gave last night in Greenville, though without the enthusiasm from Thompson or the crowd. As he finishes, Thompson awkwardly waits for the music to cue up so that he might leave the stage.
The pundits are likely hashing out his future as I post this, but I am heading back to town to better examine the results. I plan to file my analysis later on this evening.
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