Today I Met Tommy Thompson at Starbucks

Tommy Thompson, Former Governor of Wisconsin and Secretary of Health and Human Services under Bush was in Davenport, Iowa today and I had the opportunity to briefly speak with him one-on-one.

I slept in this morning, still being a little off schedule from our trip to Utah last week, so I was late picking up my daily dose of caffeine from Starbucks. Driving into the parking lot, I noticed a two-man TV “news” crew sort of casing the joint.

I walked in, ordered my Venti Coffee as usual. Not seeing anything out of the ordinary, I got back in my car. Just as I was about to start the engine, Tommy Thompson walks out the door. Holding an Iced Latte in one hand the other pressing his motorola razr to his ear.

(Probably the only real perk of living in Iowa is the quadrennial visits from politicians.)

I jump back out of my car walk toward Tommy with my hand outstretched and say, “Tommy Thompson, how are you doing?”. He looks up at me, still talking on his phone tells the party on the other end to hold on a second, frees up his right hand and engages mine in a strong, prolonged handshake.

We had a very brief conversation what went something like this:

Me: “Tommy, It’s Nice to meet you. It’s great to see you here in Davenport.”

Tommy: “Nice, to meet you too. What’s your name?”

Me: “I’m Matthew Smith”

Tommy: repeating it back, “Matthew Smith”

Me:”You know, You’re one of the few Republicans that makes any sense. I voted for Bush before, but I’ve been really disappointed over the last couple of years.” (For the record, I voted for Bush in 2000. I think only ignorant or oblivious people voted for him in 2004. Unfortunately, the majority of voters are ignorant and/or oblivious.)

Tommy: “Me Too. What do you do, Matthew?”

Me: “I own an Internet Marketing Company.”

Tommy: “Really?…Do you have a card with you?”

Me: patting down my short pockets, “No, I don’t. I just woke up, took a shower and came to get some coffee. That’s the nice thing about an internet business… I can go to work whenever I want, where I want.”

Tommy: Looking toward his escort, “Can you get him a card?”

Me: Shaking Tommy’s hand again. “Thanks, I just thought I should say hello. I really appreciate you being here.”

Tommy: “Thank you, and thanks for coming up and talking to me”

That was pretty much it. It was clear he was busy. I didn’t want to disturb him any more than I already had. His aide handed me a business card and said, if I’d like to help out send him an email.

Looking back I wish I would have asked a couple of questions and expressed my opinion on the direction of the country. But, it was all spur of the moment and I’ll just accept as what it was.

If you’ve ever read the book “Blink”, you know that people create near instant impressions of others. Even though I had only 30 seconds of his time, I was left with a very favorable impression of him.

4 thoughts on “Today I Met Tommy Thompson at Starbucks

  1. Tommy Thompson may be a nice guy, but he is a 3rd tier candidate. He came across as very undistinguished during the two debates, and bashing the President will not work as a strategy. He needs to cool it before he misses a chance at the VP slot.

    Anyway, I would consider it an honor and a privilege if you would add my blog “The Tygrrrr Express” to your list of linked sites if you feel the quality is high. If this is a duplicate request, my bad in advance.

    Happy Summer.


  2. Eric-
    I was wondering if someone would call me on the “nice guy” comment. 🙂

    Well…Yes, Tommy Thompson isn’t anywhere near a frontrunner. But, I think that’s the fault of the people who frame the race, the press, and done so at our loss.

    One thing I didn’t mention in the post was that immediately after my brief conversation with Tommy Thompson, the “newsman” started asking Tommy questions. The questions themselves were bad enough, but the tone of the questions was much worse. His tone was a mix of cynical condescension.

    Q1: “Did you get any votes in there?”, pointing back to Starbucks.
    Tommy: “What?”

    Newsman: “Did you get any votes in there?”

    Tommy: “No, I just went in to get some Coffee”

    Newsman: “You left New Hampshire at 4:00AM this morning, now you’re here in Iowa….”

    The questions had nothing to do with, why Tommy would make a great President, or how he planned to solve X or Y problem. Instead, all the questions were about the race.

    IMO, the press is a joke anymore. It’s about spoonfeeding pointless controversy or simplistic black and white issues to the public. How about some meat? My God, you have a man in front of you who was elected 4 times as Governor of Wisconsin. He served in a critical role in the current administration…. how about asking him about something of substance and education your viewers??


    Anyway, IF Tommy Thompson is a third tier candidate then he is one not because after a thoughtful analysis of his experience, proven leadership abilities, and his ideas the public has come to the opinion that others are more suited, but rather because we, the thoughtless public eat up the steaming spoonfulls of bullshit served to us each day by the “news”.

  3. I’m impressed that he even took the time to talk and it seemed that he was almost trying to enter into a conversation with you… but since I know you, it figures that you let him get back to his phone call… Would have been funny if he was on the phone with BUSH… Not likely but funny… Your Brother… by the way started watching the VID… I’m listening, and its eye opening… let you know when i finish

  4. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting his Brother Ed. He’s the mayor of Tomah WI and is Libertarian, he ran for Governor, and did reasonably well for a 3rd party.

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