Fred Thompson
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Live from the Fred Thompson/John Edwards keynote

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CrunchGear.com — your most trusted source for political news — brings you the Day Three keynote from the CTIA Wireless 2008 conference. Today’s speakers are the honorable Fred Thompson and the equally-honorable John Edwards.

9:30 – The lights have gone down and some inspirational softcore techno music is thumping. If it was a stock music file, it’d be called “Driving Glory” or something like that.

9:33 – President and CEO of CTIA, Steve Largent takes the stage and welcomes everyone, saying that it’s been an incredible week. Clearly he wasn’t at Blush in the Wynn hotel the other night. That bar was NOT incredible. I don’t care for very loud gangsta rap and super expensive domestic beer.

9:40 – A video of consumers is playing — people talking about how they don’t want to pay extra taxes for wireless service.

9:41 – John Edwards takes the stage. Makes some funny remarks about traveling after running for president. “If everyone I met that told me they were for me had actually been for me, I wouldn’t be here right now.” Everyone laughs. His hair looks great.

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9:43 – Asks the audience to raise our hands if we can a) tell the difference between Obama and Clinton’s health care plan, b) the difference between Clinton and Obama and McCain’s health care plan, and some other examples. His point is that the media doesn’t cover this stuff — the media covers the “horse race”.

9:46 – Says YouTube is a good thing. People use it to watch campaign speeches. Wireless is good too because it offers non-stop access to candidates. It also changes how campaigns are funded. He cites that when he ran, people could text the word “hope” to a certain number to join his supporters. It democratizes the process instead of having campaigns funded by a few people with a ton of money.

9:50 – We have a lot of work to do as far as educating the public on political issues. Wireless is good because it can inform people and get them motivated to vote.

9:52 – Everything is connected. The notion that healthcare and foreign policy and the economy are separate issues is wrong. They’re all connected. Population growth and interconnectedness is important too. Things that happen in China affect us, etc. America has got to lead the way on environmentalism. Whatever we do won’t matter, though, unless the rest of the world joins us because everything is connected.

9:54 – Impoverished nations need the technological tools to support themselves economically. Talks about Africa but says that it affects other places as well. We have to be the leaders — need to step up to the plate and lead.

9:57 – Says thank you and leaves the stage. Here comes Fred Thompson.

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10:00 – Thompson makes some jokes. “I was at a craps table last night and though to myself ‘I haven’t been amongst this many losers since my last presidential debate.’” People laugh. “People gave me bad advice while campaigning…they told me to be myself…that’s exactly why I’m standing before you today instead of campaigning.”

10:03 – Talks about the campaign process. Says it’s easy to criticize, so let’s do that. The process is too long. You need to start campaigning as a junior in high school. It also helps to be born rich. People laugh. I enjoy his smart-looking suit.

10:05 – Re-emphasizes what Edwards said about the media covering the horse race instead of the actual issues. It prevents people from joining the process — both potential candidates and voters.

10:06 – I begin to get the sinking feeling that this event has very little to do with wireless, technology, gadgets, or anything that’s normally featured on CrunchGear.

10:07 – My chin stops quivering as Thompson starts talking about technology. Talks about technology’s downside as it relates to sophisticated weaponry that our enemies are able to build. He then talks about how this generation is bankrupting the next generation because of technology allowing people to grow much older.

10:10 – Talks about the cynicism of the American people. People have no confidence in their leaders. We need credibility in our leadership. Says John McCain is the greatest comeback since Lazarus. Nowadays people are looking more for personal qualities and less at party affiliation. The pendulum should naturally be swinging back towards the democrats this election, yet McCain is ahead of Obama and Clinton.

10:15 – Thinks that technology is good for politics as far as keeping up with everything. When you get off the bus, you’re expected to know what happened on the other side of the world within the last twenty minutes and have a comment about it.

Says something very interesting. “You’d think that with all this technology, campaigning would be shorter.” Everything’s so much more condensed and instant, yet campaigning gets longer and longer.

10:17 – Thompson is done talking. Now it’s time for Q and A.

Q: Who are your political heroes?

Edwards – Bobby Kennedy.

Thompson – Howard Baker.

Q: How has the 24-hour news cycle affected the political process?

Thompson – You have to watch what you say at all times. There’s nothing worse than a writer facing dead air that needs to file a story. Controversy is the name of the game.

Edwards – It creates an imperative that there be fighting and controversy. You’d expect that a 24-hour news cycle would result in a more informed electorate but it mostly results in fighting.

It’s amazing to see how bloggers have affected the mainstream media. Most bloggers are out ahead of mainstream media and as a result, candidates check blogs first thing in the morning before they check regular news outlets. [Dismissive laughter from the Star-Belly Sneetches present from the mainstream media outlets.]

It’s fascinating to see how bloggers are able to leverage technology to the extent that it puts them out ahead of mainstream media.

10:30 – All done. Pretty short Q and A.

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