Former Senator Fred Thompson formally entered the race for the presidency in an announcement that aired last night on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In a calculated move, Thompson took away some of the limelight from the other presidential candidates at the close of the debate by his appearance on the show.
At the UNH-Durham debate, candidates were quizzed on Thompson's late entry into the race and how they thought it would affect his chances of winning. Candidates responses were as follows:
MR. HUCKABEE: Well, Brit, I was scheduled to be on Jay Leno tonight, but I gave up m slot for somebody else because I’d rather be in New Hampshire with these fine people. You know, Brit, Fred is -- Fred is from Nashville, Tennessee, home of George Jones, who is often called "No-Show George" for not showing up at his concerts. And maybe Senator Thompson will be known as the no-show for the presidential debates.
But I’m proud to be sharing the stage with these guys, because we’re running for president, and we’re delighted to be here.
And I certainly appreciate getting this opportunity.
REP. PAUL: Well, I welcome him to the race because, very specifically, he will help dilute the vote for my benefit because he will be pro-war -- and I’m the anti-war candidate representing the Republican traditional position.
SEN. MCCAIN: Well, I think that’s a decision that Fred should make. Maybe we’re up past his bedtime, but the point is. You know, one thing I know about New Hampshire and I know well is that the people of New Hampshire expect to see you. They expect to see you a lot, and they expect to see you at townhall meetings and at places all over this great state of New Hampshire. And they expect to see you before they make up their mind.
One of the many Arizonans who ran for president of the United States unsuccessfully, like all of us -- Morris Udall. Once -- he was a very funny man. As you know, once he said -- a fellow in Manchester said to the other one, "What do you think about Mo Udall for president," and the guy said, "I don’t know. I only met him twice." And you know the reason why that joke is funny is because it’s true, and my advice to Fred is get out into the arena, Fred.
MR. ROMNEY: You know, the only question I have for Senator Thompson is, why the hurry? Why not take some more time off? Maybe January, February might be a better time to make a final decision about getting in this race.
MR. GIULIANI: I like Fred a lot. I think Fred is a really, really good man. I think he’s done a pretty good job of playing my part on "Law & Order." I personally prefer the real thing, and -- but I think Fred will add something to this race. But I think this is a nomination you have to earn, though.
The full transcript of last night's GOP debate is available by clicking here.