Fred Thompson planning TV commercial during GOP debate

Via The New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 — Fred D. Thompson, the soon-to-be-official presidential contender, has come under a good deal of criticism in New Hampshire this week for scheduling his formal announcement for next Thursday morning and thus skipping the Republican debate in Manchester on Wednesday night.

But that does not mean that television viewers watching the debate will not see him.

Campaign officials said Friday that Mr. Thompson had bought a 30-second spot that would be televised nationally on the Fox News Channel, the network carrying the debate, just as viewers are tuning in at the onset.

One campaign official familiar with the decision said the spot would be a sneak preview of the announcement that Mr. Thompson will make the next day in a video posted on his Web site, to be followed later Thursday by campaign appearances in Iowa.

Sort of the definition of thumbing your opponents. I’ve got to say I’m not sure how this will go over.

Either one of two ways:
1. Fred is seen as the true champion of conservatives and takes away all the press from the other candidates.

2. Fred is seen as a spoil sport for trying to grab attention while avoiding the debate reinforcing the rumors that he’s not a serious candidate.

Republicans close to the Thompson campaign felt that the risks would probably be too great for any benefit. In the worst case, he might have made a mistake or come under attack from his Republican rivals, overshadowing the highly scripted rollout he has prepared for the next day.

Campaign officials said the advertisement would be relatively simple, featuring Mr. Thompson talking directly to the camera about the announcement he was about to make. It all but certainly ensures him a prominent spot in a debate he will not even attend.

This is risky, but then again that’s what Thompson has said he will be doing in this campaign to carry him to victory.

Either way come Thursday we’ll have the ad and the entire debate video. Also look for Thompson on Leno Wednesday which we’ll also have uploaded in full.

Leno now lists Fred as confirmed for Wednesday.