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Thompson Tackles Sunshine State

As his candidacy enters a crucial period, GOP presidential hopeful Fred Thompson has been working the Sunshine State. He came to Florida on Saturday with his main rivals for a candidates rally in front of state party faithful, and then debated in Orlando on Sunday night. He also campaigned in the state on Monday and Tuesday.

Thompson had an up and down time in Florida: His brief, substance-light speech on Saturday was roundly criticized, but his debate performance was seen as an improvement from his first debate, on Oct. 9 in Michigan.

On Monday, Thompson had this to say when asked about the pace of his campaigning: "The mainstream media, with all due respect, likes to concentrate on the process game on a daily basis, and I can't get caught up in that. I'm going to do it the way I want to do it."

On Tuesday, he announced his policy on illegal immigration, an important issue to Florida primary voters, saying "taxpayer money should not be provided to illegal immigrants."

So how do state polls suggest Thompson is doing? A new Quinnipiac University poll, which was conducted from Oct. 17-22 and thus covers some time before and during Thompson's visit, has Thompson at 14 percent in the state, tied with John McCain (whose support has doubled in two weeks – the Woodstock effect?) and 16 points behind Rudy Giuliani. Thompson has actually dropped five points in the state since the last Quinnipiac poll in Florida from the first week of October.