Sen. Fred Thompson said ad was a favor to rivals.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) - During the CNN/YouTube debate on Wednesday, former Sen. Fred Thompson made waves by becoming the first Republican candidate to air a negative attack ad in the 2008 race.
Each candidate was asked to produce a 30-second YouTube-style ad to air during the debate, but unlike his opponents’, Thompson’s didn’t feature himself. Instead, it went after Mitt Romney for changing his views on abortion and Mike Huckabee for his tax policy while governor of Arkansas.
Asked why he felt the need to make a negative ad, Thompson replied, “It’s interesting to me that it’s considered to be a negative ad when you play somebody else’s words.” He added, “The point is that time and time again with regards to Mayor Giuliani and Gov. Romney and Gov. Huckabee, their positions today are different than positions that they’ve had throughout their political careers.”
Thompson argued that by drawing a contrast between past and present, he was helping the public come to a decision about the candidates, “I thought that I was doing [the candidates] a favor letting the audience see their own words, not something that I said about them.”
Immediately following the airing of the clip, Romney responded, as he has many times on the campaign trail, that he was wrong on abortion. Since the debate, Huckabee has asserted that the clip of him was taken out of context.
- CNN Nevada Producer Alexander Marquardt