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. Anon.

    I'd sure like to see someone actually take care of one of those preventatives.

    December 5, 2007 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  2. Kelly - Lansing, MI

    Fred Thompson - He is definitely the "voice of reason" amid the chaos!

    December 5, 2007 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  3. My Body is My Business

    Not a Fred Thompson fan or follower, however on this one I agree. It is not the governments job to tell anyone what to eat.
    If so then why stop there? Whe shouldn't the government tell you to ban smoking 100%. Ban Alcohol 100%. Ban all processed foods 100%.Have government mandated daily excersizing for all people. Sounds like communist Utopia.
    No individual responsibilities or choices left.

    December 5, 2007 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    The government should also not be allowed to define what marriage is...remember less government is better...less government is better

    December 5, 2007 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  5. Al, Birmingham, AL

    Yes, we should brush our teeth and exercise. Should the government mandate it? NO! It is not the government's job to prevent us from disease, obesity, etc. Good for Fred!

    December 5, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. Dan, New York, NY

    I am a Democrat, but Fred is absolutely correct about this issue.

    It comes down to this: In a free country, people MUST be allowed to be self-destructive and must be permitted to make stupid, irresponsible choices.

    If I wish to eat KFC 3 meals per day, that is my prerogative, and nobody should interfere with me. If I suffer obesity-related illness and die, it's my problem and my fault.

    That's freedom, folks.

    December 5, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  7. Charles

    To Andy

    Because the Democratic party doesn't pander to the lowest common denominator? Last time I checked it was the Democrats who get the majority of the votes from the welfare sponges because they protect their free government money. "No, why should we fix welfare? We've got an entire community voting for us, we just have to pay for their living expenses and a bus to the polls."

    We're talking about the God given right to do whatever the hell you want with your body be it healthy or not. I want to have the freedom to eat a second piece of cake. Do you Democrats and Liberals REALLY believe that you can make people healthy with education? True, proper education is important so that we know what is health and what is not, but that's where it should end. No tax, no laws, no government intrusion.

    December 5, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  8. Kevin, Saint Louis MO

    Referring to the post below: Who is we? Is we the government? Should the government be teaching children to brush their teeth? Shouldn't parents be doing that? Of course if the guy who wrote the post below had his way families won't be needed anymore. Socialist, big government policies are THE reason for the destruction of American families.

    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

    December 5, 2007 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. Karl, Atlanta GA

    The last thing we need is government to tell us how and what to eat. The less government in our lives the better! Think about it, a bunch of useless guidelines created out of a Senate committee. Government is not an expert in Wellness care. (or many other things)

    December 5, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. Dave, Pittsburgh, PA

    Fred is the only real conservative in this race. McCain is liberal on immigration and thats why he has no chance of winning. Rudy is a social liberal(and by the way, likes to dress like a woman sometimes). Romney has always been liberal. Huckabee is just acting like a conservative to get some votes. Paul is conservative, but has no chance of winning. Same with Hunter and Tancredo.

    December 5, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. Frank Martin, Portland, OR

    To Ba Gua Zhang

    Confusing education with coercian? Republican Propaganda on the role of government?

    Can I ask you for the passage in our Constitution that states that its the federal governments role in teaching children how to brush their teeth? Or where to send those children to gym class or drivers ed?

    Just wondering...

    December 5, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. Esther, Chicago IL

    Maybe if we didn't have such a high tax burden to pay for social programs, people could afford more fresh fruits and vegetables, and better yet, afford to have one spouse stay home and cook them properly. But that's putting too much trust in people, we can't allow that in today's world view. Ask not what you can do for the government, ask what the government can do for you seems to be the mantra among Republicans and Democrats alike.

    December 5, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  13. Bill

    Mike Huckabee's health plan: have Chuck Norris shove your pallet full of broccoli. Pray to Jesus it doesn't hurt.

    I'm disappointed that no one yet has noted that this is clearly a dig at the Huckabee "get fit for God and Country" plan, in addition at faceless liberalism.

    December 5, 2007 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  14. Pete McCormick Phoenix, AZ

    No where in Thompson's remarks did he indicate that he "dismissed the idea that preventative care and wellness education should be central features of a government's health care system."

    This is your interpretation. He simply believes that government should not intervene or mandate what we eat.

    December 5, 2007 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  15. Eric, Charlotte, NC

    I think most people agree that every US citizen should have access to scientifically proven healthy lifestyle education and preventive medical care. It is when the government starts paying for other things that are based on the individuals choice of lifestyle that the role of government gets scary.
    Here's is a possible plan. Use federal tax dollars to pay for all preventive care and education on how to live a healthy lifestyle. Preventive care includes annual physicals for adults and other preventive screenings appropriate for age and the normal child physicals appropriate for their age. It includes dental cleaning and vision screening. Any other types of medical care should be the responsibility of the individual either by paying out of pocket or through unregulated healthcare providers. This includes eyeglasses, contacts, medical surgeries (even those required to save someone's life), cosmetic surgery, fillings, crowns, perscriptions. If people choose not to use the preventive care or life a healthy lifestyle, they will have higher medical expenses. If you choose to live healthy you should have much lower medical expenses. I realize that many people get sick not as a result of any of their choices and may not be able to afford the necessary medical care or insurance. If that person requires assistance from the government, then the government should be able to ensure the person has gone to all the preventive medical appointments and lives a reasonably healthy lifestyle before offering any assistance. Bottom line is you do not want to have to rely on the government for anything unless you absolutely have to...and when you do, you are going to be subject to the scrutiny of the entire country since it is their money you are using.

    December 5, 2007 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  16. Doesn't Matter

    I wish this was just propoganda, but unfortunately as we see in NYC and elsewhere, the government IS starting to mandate what we eat. But guess what? It should, as long as "it" foots the bill for healthcare. The only sustainable (sustainable as in will not continuousely snowball to an extreme) policy is for the government to not be involved AT ALL in our healthcare.

    December 5, 2007 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  17. Steve, Chandler AZ

    Vote Democrat so that the Goverment can tell you how to run you life, what to eat, how to dress. Oh by the way, we will install live video feeds in your home to make sure you are following the rules.
    OBEY..or else

    December 5, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  18. Ciera, Denver, CO

    Democrates want the federal government to demand healthful living from our obese and smoking citizens. AIDS is a serious health issue. Guess they will have to also outlaw homosexual sex. what about STDs? Let's ban sex out of marriage. What about abortions. Dangerous to health (emotional/physical) of the mother. Deadly to the baby. Ban abortions. etc., etc. What about the dangerous side-effects of pharmacuticals? Outlaw them. etc., etc.,

    December 5, 2007 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  19. Greg, Monroe WA

    The key words are "Federal Government". Fred is right, the feds have no business telling us what to eat. Federal government is not here to micro manage our lives, and it's just ridiculous that some folks think it should be. There are, however, many lower levels of government who are better equipped to take these positions or assist other agencies in keeping the folks informed. I don't know anyone who is saying let everyone get fat. But when it is said that the feds should stay out of our private lives, that is exactly what they mean. It does not mean that nobody should inform the masses about nutrition. Then again, there do seem to be people who think the federal government is in charge of everything and never even consider a more local approach.

    December 5, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  20. William

    OF COURSE government should not be controlling or telling people what they should and should'nt eat. Do you liberals want to live in a 1984 Orwellian nightmare where the government has absolute control over our lives?!! ARE you liberal Democrats really so ignorant that you cant understand what freedom is? All the government should do for the people is keep the roads up to date, provide police and fire departments and the strongest military and that is ALL! Government has NO PLACE in my life, and especially has no right telling me what I should or should not be putting in my body. That is MY decision, and my choice! All of you same liberals that are such pro-abortion activist, and talk about your right to choice. Well it is my right to eat what I want, and I dont want the government using my tax dollars creating some costly program that tells people what to eat! STUPID!!! And I am not an old dinosaur, I am 26 years old!!! GO FRED 08'!

    December 5, 2007 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  21. Linda Montgomery, Swarthmore, PA

    Thanks Fred. We need LESS government involvement in our private lives, not more. The lazy ones want government to control everything – so they don't have to think or develop their own plan of action. That's scarey. Too much like Hitler for me!

    December 5, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  22. Matt, Vermillion, SD

    You spelled Tennessee wrong.

    December 5, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  23. Charles, Tarpon Springs, Fl

    What a New Hampshire poll says about Fred is of little concern to me. I can't think of the last time I agreed with someone in New Hampshire about anything. I intend to vote for Fred! I don't want another Yankee liberal in the White House. I also don't want any more of government's help. Everytime they promise to help, it costs me more money!

    December 5, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  24. Ken, Sand Springs OK

    Fred is right-on. KEEP GOVERNMENT OUT OF OUR LIVES!!!!!

    December 5, 2007 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. A. Thin Wingman Buffalo NY

    Thompson is totally correct that it's a willpower issue, not an education issue. It's become common basic knowledge that eating too many calories causes weight gain. Who in the world does not know this? All this "wellness" education from Washington over the past few decades has been accompanied by the average American getting FATTER not thinner. And it's not about food choices either. It's been shown that both high fat diets and low fat diets can result in weight loss. The issues is the AMOUNT of food one eats, much more than the types of foods.

    December 5, 2007 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
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