Strike while the iron is hot!
Remember last year when Fred Thomspon formed an exploratory committee, how excited a lot of people got that a Reaganeque figure was about to enter the race? Right around that time, Fred came out with this short and brilliant video that absolutely smacked down Michael Moore on freedom of speech that got very wide play and generated a lot of enthusiasm. Fred should have waited a week for it to simmer down, then reignited the base by announcing his candidacy. But no, he waited. He skipped the debates. Rumors swirled about disarray in his campaign. Fred was about ideas, but unfortunately campaigns are mostly about personalities and rhetoric, and Fred left his ample theatrical skills hiding in the wings while lesser lights got the applause. Weeks, and months went by, and everyone figured he was only half-serious about running, and that is the message that stuck.
Rudy Giuliani was, hard to believe, at one time the presumptive GOP candidate. He did well on television with his ads and debate performances, but he refused to actually campaign for any states until the Florida primary this week. He was looking at second- or third-place showings in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, so he just decided to write them off and put his resources elsewhere. McCain and Romney started eating into his poll numbers in Florida, his first and last stand. A handful of place or show finishes in other states would have kept at least some momentum and excitement going for him, but instead he just watched it all crumble. He proved that an all-big state strategy just doesn't work.
So all you future candidates out there, keep your momentum, seize your moment, and be wary of cutting corners in your efforts.