December 4th, 2007
04:52 PM ET
7 years ago

Thompson: Don't let the government tell you what to eat

Thompson campaigned in South Carolina Tuesday.

SPARTANBURG, South Carolina (CNN) - Fred Thompson wants the government to keep its hands off your dinner plate.

That's what he told a questioner Tuesday in South Carolina, anyway.

Standing about 15 feet away from a mouth-watering steam tray buffet loaded with fried chicken, creamed corn and macaroni and cheese at Wade's Southern Cooking in Spartanburg, Thompson dismissed the idea that preventative care and wellness education should be central features of a government's health care system.

"I'm telling you, I don’t think that it’s the primary responsibility of the federal government to tell you what to eat," Thompson said to applause when asked if his health care plan included any details on preventative care, a priority for Democratic candidates.

"The fact of the matter is we got an awful lot of knowledge,” said the former Tennessee senator. “Sometimes we don’t have a whole lot of will power, and I don’t know of any government program that's going to instill that."

Thompson, ever a fan of small government, said healthy living should be the responsibilities of families first.

"We shouldn’t be looking at the federal government in Washington first and working our way down, it ought to be just the other way around. With that, or whether you're talking about education, there's some things the federal government can't do," said Thompson.

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby


Filed under: Fred Thompson • South Carolina
soundoff (190 Responses)
  1. Msharpdc, lou ky

    here's the problem with his thinking. People do nothing to promote or protect their own health, or you could even say do the opposite they know is right, and then when they lose their health because of their poor choices with no thought to the future, they want the govt (taxpayer) sponsored health care to pay for their expenses through medicare/medicaid. There has to be some accountability.

    December 5, 2007 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  2. John Greenville Michigan

    Fred is right. Finally someone is talking since.

    December 5, 2007 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  3. John Q. Victim

    I cannot believe a Presidential Candidate in 2008 believes that a citizen should be able to take care of themselves. I can hardly wait for Hillary to tell me how to eat, think, spend my money and handle my life. These decisions are far too important for me to decide.

    December 5, 2007 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. Jacqui, Columbus, OH

    The point Thompson is making is not so much about food as it is about personal responsibility, something in which this country needs a HUGE refresher course. It's ridiculous to sue McDonalds because eating their food made you fat, and it's ridiculous to expect the government to pass a law to keep you from eating there as well.

    December 5, 2007 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  5. David, Lemoore, Ca

    "Preventive education is NOT telling you what to eat or do. Should we not teach kids how to brush their teeth, not teach them gym class, not teach drivers' ed, etc.? He's confusing education with coercion. Typical Republican propaganda about the role of government.

    Posted By Ba Gua Zhang, Chico, CA : December 4, 2007 6:36 pm"

    NO!!! THE GOVERNMENT SHOULDN'T!! Thats what PARENTS are for!!!

    Just another lazy liberal that wants the government to do EVERYTHING for them so they can play like little children rather than assume ANY responsibility for their own lives. If you dont have the time to teach your children to brush their teeth, you are PATHETIC!!

    December 5, 2007 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  6. Anonymous

    Are you kidding me? It is not the role of the federal government to "teach" people how to eat. Nor is it the role of the federal government to ban "junk" food in schools.

    December 5, 2007 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  7. Chris, Jacksonville FL

    I'm telling you, I don’t think that it’s the primary responsibility of the federal government to tell you what to eat," Thompson said to applause when asked if his health care plan included any details on preventative care, a priority for Democratic candidates.

    -Wow. How dishonest. Who said the "primary responsibility" of the federal government is to tell you what to eat? I must have missed that. Try this one out at you next rally Fred, "I don't think that it's the primary responsibility of federal government to tell you who you can marry". Something tells me the Spartanburg folks would not have applaused that one.

    December 5, 2007 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. John Jeffries Massachusetts

    Gua Zhang is an idiot. We are not talking about teaching "children" like you libtards love to preach about as a cover for your idiotic ideas. We are talking about GROWN ADULTS who lack the will power to not eat like pigs and expect the government to bail them and and teach them how to live. Get a grip Gua, you moron.

    December 5, 2007 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  9. Josh, Kerrville, Texas

    Fred is spot on. It is not the role of the Federal nor State Government to tell me how to live MY life. If I want to eat buckets of lard for breakfast lunch and dinner that is my choice.

    December 5, 2007 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. Chuck, Gainesville, GA

    The government shouldn't be teaching us anything! We are wasting millions of taxpayer dollars doing studies. People need to take personal responsibility for their life and stop looking to the government to "hold their hand".

    December 5, 2007 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. Curtis, Winson Salem, NC

    Dietary guidelines are not the governments business. Find anything in the constitution that lets the Feds tell me what to eat or how to do anything. The problem with us being overweight is not going to be fixed by the government. Government does not and should not have the power to force me to eat something or not eat something. Thompson is the first person in politics who has had the sense to say enough is enough. Get the government out of my food. After all when does it end, with your choice of music, your car, your house style? Once you let them into your daily life they will not stop.

    December 5, 2007 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  12. Terry, Lakeland, FL

    Preventive education is NOT telling you what to eat or do. Should we not teach kids how to brush their teeth, not teach them gym class, not teach drivers' ed, etc.? He's confusing education with coercion. Typical Republican propaganda about the role of government.

    Posted By Ba Gua Zhang, Chico, CA : December 4, 2007 6:36 pm

    Telling people you CANNOT eat something is not Preventive education. If some people had their way it'd be a law that you can only eat grass, low-fat grass but grass only. There is nothing wrong with the government presenting the facts, the problem is the government things we are stupid. I do not need someone in washington telling me if I eat of a fastfood place I'm probably not eating healthy....I know that, I also don't need someone in washington telling me I cannot eat foods cooked in this or that. I'm a big boy, all grown up, I think I can decide for myself.

    December 5, 2007 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. Kithy, MO

    The government has been telling us to eat since I was a child, with the four basic food groups. Since we are now the fattest nation, do you think the government may have erred? What makes you think they'll get it right this time?

    December 5, 2007 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  14. Papa Ray, Midland, TX

    Some people want to spend your money to tell you and others how to live, what to do and how to do it.

    I really don't think that is a good idea, nor a good use of my money.

    Pay for the rule of law, from a local level to the national level, but don't pay for a nanny state nor a government that can't spend money wisely.

    Call that what ever you wish, Thompson is saying the same thing. Like him or not yourself, he will appeal to millions of Americans.

    Just be sure and not just be a talker and a net nut.

    Git your butt out on election day and cast your vote.

    Once.

    Papa Ray
    West Texas
    USA

    December 5, 2007 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  15. Matt, Dallas, Texas

    Good for Fred. This is not the governments role.

    December 5, 2007 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  16. Terry, Endwell, NY

    You've made our point. "We have far too many obese people to let nutritional guidelines be ignored." The only way to keep them from being ignored is to ENFORCE them which is what libs will do if they ever get real power again. If I don't eat right, it is MY fault, not some government bureaucrats. I pay for my own health care. That is the incentive I need to live healthy. Having the government pay for my healthcare and then forcing me to live healthy makes fear of punishment the incentive. Does anyone really want that?

    December 5, 2007 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  17. Michael, Gulfport MS

    I agree with Fred...I a big guy...not obese, but just a big guy in general. It kills me that everyone has to blame someone other than themselves. When I hear obese people talking about it someone else's fault it is hard to sypathize when I see them whoof down a dozen Krispy Kremes...does personal responsibility play any role these days. It is not the governments job to instill will power to eat right in people. Did you all think KFC stood for Kolesterol Free Chicken? No body was forced to eat it...it was a choice. It is a personal problem if they can't back away from the buffet line at the appropriate time.

    December 5, 2007 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  18. DT, Wisconsin

    Common-sense practices like brushing one's teeth and learning to drive are not mandated by the government, nor should they be. However, "education" becomes "coersion" when laws are established to prevent restaurants from serving fatty food to its customers.

    Those that are "educated" will likely be aware of the consequences of their decisions. Let the consumer live with his/her choices, rather than allowing the government the opportunity to choose for us.

    December 5, 2007 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  19. Karenina, USA

    Wow, these comments really say a lot about the mental state of our nation. Are Americans really that brainwashed that they need the government to educate them at every level of our personal lives? Is the government the end all, be all to some?

    If Americans haven't learned by NOW that eating too much pizza and fried chicken will make you FAT, then sorry, there is nothing the government can do to teach you. It's simple common sense, which Americans are lacking more and more everyday. We need a ticket for not buckling up, we need smoke nazis to prevent anyone from breathing second hand smoke (cause you know, our air is so clean anyways) and now, here comes the government to tell fat people to shape up.

    When will it end? Pretty soon they will be in every aspect of our lives, from cradle to grave. Everyone will be working for some government agency because you need a lot of people to dictate to others.

    Take some friggin' responsibility people! Down with government, up with personal accountability!

    December 5, 2007 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  20. Tom Weaver , New Market Maryland

    I guess the US CONSTITUTION means nothing to Anonymous who is so progressive my guess is he thinks from each according to his means, to each according to his needs is in the US Constitution. God this contry is in big trouble if the Dinosaur comment is prevelent

    December 5, 2007 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  21. Itsa, Salt Lake City, UT

    Bradley Schaubs is representative of what's gone wrong in this country. He's displaying a complete lack of understanding (or wanton disregard) of the principle of limited government on which our country was founded. The federal government has no authority to enforce nutritional guidelines, nor should they.

    December 5, 2007 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  22. Susan, Morehead City, NC

    People will do what they want no matter what the Government says. A little Ron Paul thinking wouldn't hurt here. Laws don't change peoples behavior. If you want a government babysitter, you better look to the Demos but don't expect to become a more responsible nation.

    December 5, 2007 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. Ken (Baltimore, MD)

    Ba Gua Zhang and others are missing the point as usual. Thompson isn't trying to suppress education on healthy living. He just doesn't want to federal government to do it! Doctors, parents, teachers and individuals are responsible for helping us understand what we should eat.
    The government is already trying to tell us what to eat. NYC has passed laws on trans fat use, etc.
    As with many of these topics, liberals want the government to be responsible, conservatives want individuals to be responsible. I prefer having the FREEDOM to make my own intelligent decisions.

    December 5, 2007 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. Doolittle

    You numbnuts liberals need to immigrate to Canada or the UK if you want the government to take care of you 24-7. Thompson is exactly right. Why do you think there are so many fat-bastard Americans? It's that mindset of, "I have no responsibility to myself or my fellow-Americans. I'll do whatever feels good, and my government will take care of me." When people are conditioned to think for themselves and to rely on themselves for their needs, they will make better choices.

    December 5, 2007 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  25. Fat Rosie The Carpet Eater

    You'll get my Liberty Fries (aka "French") when you prey 'em from my fat, pudgy fingers!

    Fred's The Man: he's right, we gotta right to be, well, whatever.

    December 5, 2007 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
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