Bob, Don’t be Fred

By Beacon Staff

Bigfork Republican Bob Keenan needs to be careful. As he tromps across the country and we speculate about whether he runs for Montana governor or U.S. Senate or neither, he’s beginning to look eerily similar to another country-trotting politico who waited to announce a decision to run: presidential candidate Fred Thompson.

While something can be said for waiting to enter the race (the political season is altogether too long) and something else can be said for comparing U.S. Senate and governor runoffs to the presidential race (which is even longer), Keenan should be aware, and leery, of Thompson’s missteps. The former actor and senator from Tennessee made his presidential bid after speculation about his candidacy wore so thin that when he did announce it was met with a collective shrug. That indifference has since turned to resentment, particularly among respected conservative pundits.

And Thompson, the last to enter the foray for the Republican ticket, is getting as little love from the press as he is from his own party. Thompson’s fellow GOP candidates, predictably, chided him for announcing his candidacy on the Jay Leno Show on the same night of a Republican debate. Thompson has stumbled along the campaign trail, playing catch-up to opponents and sounding confused about the issues.

Given, the Keenan express hasn’t at all deflated – although it would be hard to argue it’s flying high behind a tailwind of optimism. If the speculation continues much longer, some of which is no fault of his own, Keenan could fall prey to a prickly populace. No one likes, apparently, a politician who can’t make up his or her mind. Just look at what the flip-flop campaign did to former presidential candidate John Kerry.

So choose to challenge Gov. Schweitzer or Sen. Max Baucus after returning from your advice session with Republican U.S. senators in Washington, D.C. If it takes longer than that, the speculation about whether you run could hinder any pending announcement.

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