Captain's Quarter's flatly stated that Thompson wiped the floor with his detractors - in a nice, folksy sort of way.
The first debate with Fred Thompson was expected to reveal whether the lanky actor had what it takes to make a national run for the office. Instead, it revealed Chris Matthews as a hack of the first order, one who tried his best to torpedo Thompson -- and failed utterly. He got so desparate that he demanded to know whether Thompson knew who the Canadian Prime Minister was -- and he did. Matthews grew so frustrated that he openly critiqued one of Thompson's answer for being too detailed, which prompted a scolding from Thompson.
That was the game behind the debate, and Thompson stomped Matthews into a laughingstock. In the rest of the debate, Thompson showed that he was comfortable and prepared, even for the silly attacks from other candidates. Mitt Romney went into a long, telegraphed, and obviously gag-written punch about how the debates resemble "Law and Order" and how Fred shows up last, which Fred neatly returned by feigning surprise that he wasn't the best actor on the stage -- jabbing at Romney's perceived plasticness.