BREAKING: Fred Thompson Visits New Hampshire

That shouldn’t be news. But itis, seeing as it was only his second time there.

Fred Thompson is sticking with his “Southern Strategy,” the Wall Street Journal reports today. In other words, he’s largely bypassing Iowaand New Hampshire in favor of early southern states like South Carolinaand Florida instead of :  

It’s not a conventional presidential strategy to play down Iowa and New Hampshire. Candidates who have tried skipping themgenerally haven’t fared well. And Mr. Thompson said during his visit yesterdaythat he’s planning on spending enough time and money in New Hampshire to at least make a respectableshowing before the vote heads South.

Is he serious? It’s not just that Iowaand New Hampshirehave been important in the past. They’ve been essential. In the last 28 years,the only presidential candidate to win his party’s nomination without winning oneof those two states has been Bill Clinton. And, to borrow a put-down , Fred Thompsonis no Bill Clinton. Sure, he’s faring better in South Carolina and Florida—secondplace behind Giuliani. But even Giuliani knows that’s not enough.

Giuliani, who initially planned to focus on the February 5 “TsunamiTuesday,” has decided to go all in in theGranite State. You don’t want to risk going intoFeb. 5 having already lost a handful of states—Iowa,New Hampshire, and Michigan being the riskiest. He has recentlyseen a jump in the polls there—althoughRomney still leads—and he plans to startairing TV ads as well. Without a victory, or at least a respectable showing, inNH, he would have trouble stopping Romney’s momentum.

Thompson has yet to face this fact. It’s one thing torecognize your limits in the early states. It’s another to pretend they don’texist.