So Fred Thompson's in the race and in New Hampshire, at least, in a heap of trouble too.

A lot of voters there are ticked that he skipped a debate there.

I'm sure he'll try to make amends, but it reminds me of something my Irish mom used to tell me: "Never underestimate the power of a slight" — or the simple reality that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Lee Iacocca intrinsically knew that when he had his first big meeting with hundreds of frustrated Chrysler workers. His Vince Lombardi-like pep talk was so inspiring, I'm told, that workers pledged their undying loyalty to lee right there, right on the spot.

Ditto former Johnson & Johnson CEO Jim Burke's crisis baptism by fire with the Tylenol tampering scandal back in the 1980s. Rather than duck the controversy, Burke took the offensive: Recalling capsules, reassuring consumers and ultimately winning over investors.

Not so his counterpart at Union Carbide during the Bhopal gas leak in India in 1984 that claimed thousands of lives. Defensive, prickly and evasive — that CEO… forgettable.

Some wow in the moment. Others lose the moment.

Don't get me wrong: You can still get back a moment.

Who knows that better than Bill Clinton after his disastrously long-winded speech for Michael Dukakis back in 1988?

It's just tougher.

And for Fred Thompson now, maybe a lot tougher.

Watch Neil Cavuto weekdays at 4 p.m. ET on "Your World with Cavuto" and send your comments to cavuto@foxnews.com