Thompson, not yet a presidential candidate, is greeted by supporters.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - He's not yet an official presidential candidate, but former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson sure sounded like one in a speech to several hundred South Carolina supporters Wednesday.
The Tennessee Republican and "Law & Order" star, who is widely expected to jump into the race in July, focused on conservative themes during the lunchtime speech and stressed the importance of the war on terror.
"This world is not safer when the United States of America appears to be weaker," he said. "This world is more dangerous when our country appears to be weaker, and we can never let that happen.
"And some of our colleagues here in the United States need to learn that," he added. "This is going to be not a war of bombs. This is going to be a war of will, a war of will that we have to win, over whatever period of time."
In a lighter moment, Thompson, who served as senator from 1994 to 2003 before joining the cast of "Law & Order," compared Hollywood to Washington, noting he agrees with the saying that "politics is show business for ugly people."
In a news conference following the event, Thompson noted his high standing in many recent national polls "without raising a dime."
"You know they said you'd have to raise $100 million this year to compete, the experts did, and without raising a dime you know, I was in the pack," he said. "So I've already saved $50 million this year."
– CNN's Alexander Mooney and Susan Brown