September 8th, 2007
08:43 AM ET
13 years ago

Huckabee challenges Thompson

Thompson campaigned in Iowa Friday.

(CNN) - Critical of Fred Thompson's decision to skip Wednesday night's Republican debate, Mike Huckabee sent a letter to the newest contender for the GOP presidential nomination on Friday encouraging him to participate in a one-on-one debate.

“Senator, let’s lead by example and get the ball rolling,” Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, wrote Thompson.

Thompson, a former Tennessee senator, said in an interview on Fox News he would rather participate in a series of Lincoln-Douglas styled debates, where two candidates discuss a specific issue for at least an hour. Huckabee wrote to Thompson to "officially accept" his offer.

"I agree that what is needed is a real discussion by the candidates about their vision for the future of our country," Huckabee wrote.

On Thursday, Huckabee was critical of Thompson for skipping the debate and said he should have been shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of the candidates.

"He has certainly sucked up a lot of the oxygen as it relates to media attention," the former Arkansas governor said in a conference call with reporters.

"I think it hurt him in New Hampshire, from the comments we've been hearing," Huckabee continued. "People don't like that he had an opportunity to launch his campaign in one of the early states where people take politics quite seriously.... and he chose not to do that."

Huckabee said Thompson's decision to enter the race won't affect his current campaign strategy, but he still went on to take a few subtle jabs at the former senator from Tennesee.

"It's not just that I've said conservative things,” Huckabee said. “I've done conservative things actually having run a government. I've never been a Washington lobbyist. I've never lobbied for an abortion rights group. If we want to compare authentic conservatism, I'll be happy to have not just my comments but my record compared to anybody who stood on that stage or anybody who didn't stand on that stage last night.

- CNN's Chris Welch and Lauren Kornreich

Filed under: Fred Thompson • Mike Huckabee
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Izzy, Queens New York

    Fred wouldn't accept it. Huckabee would trash him hands down. I'm a sensible moderate liberal and of the whole republican line-up, Huckabee appears to be the most sensible. He's the most electable. He can appeal to people outside the traditional (looney right-wing) base. He seems sincere as well.

    September 7, 2007 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  2. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    Fred don't do debates ... so don't hold your breath. He copped out of debating Michael Moore, someone who Thompson could have chewed up and spit out several times over.

    A debate requires too much thinking on Fred's part. I mean it would take him several weeks to decide whether or not to accept ... plus then there's all that makeup etc., etc., etc.

    The closest thing that Huckabee will get to a debate from Thompson will be an exchange of snappy e-mails probably authored by a second tier flunky on Fred's staff.

    September 7, 2007 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  3. ThirstyJon, Freedomville, Illinois

    It is sad that someone would avoid debating the other candidates, most likely as a strategic step.

    Why would Thompson avoid the debate? He must believe that vague perceptions via the media are more likely to win for him than debate content!

    I am concerned that he is right. Where are the American People? Why would someone be afraid for us to hear their ideas?


    September 7, 2007 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  4. Jdude, Antwerp, New England

    Fred Thompson For President

    September 7, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  5. William Courtland, Waterford, Ontario

    What would it take for congress to select and appoint a small body of the electorate to debate against each candidate, grade the candidates, then in a non-bias, presentable portfolio designed for public consumption publish the results after all the candidates have been engaged and so rated. This paid for and reflected by page entry limit a percentage of the amount the presidential candidates have taken in campaign fundraising at a pre-set date outside personal lending and merchandising, or, just televising the debates on a government sponsored channel.

    September 7, 2007 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  6. William Courtland, Waterford, Ontario

    Has the presidential catalog arrived yet?

    September 7, 2007 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  7. Darrius, AR

    Fred, don't do it. If you debate Huckabee one-on-one, you're screwed. Huckabee will take all of your points and go on to win the nomination.

    Huckabee is going to win the nomination anyway if Fred can't get his campaign together.

    September 7, 2007 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  8. Brad, San Bernardino CA

    This would be a debate I would love to see

    September 7, 2007 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  9. Max, Austin, TX

    ALL candidates need to demand Lincoln-Douglas debate format. I'm sick of the Q&A garbage that gets passed for "debate."

    No more hypothetical questions, no more lack of rebuttal. The only way to dig into the issues is for the candidates to address EACH OTHER, not the camera.

    September 7, 2007 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  10. Steve B, Phoenix AZ

    This is just funny huckabee is just trying to get some publicity. And Thompson well his hole campaign is a joke, so maybe they will get along great together.

    Clinton 08

    September 7, 2007 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  11. Seekster, Arlington, TX

    A debate with just Thompson and Huckabee? Sure that would be a good idea. Im a Thompson supporter but Huckabee is an honorable man and would make a good Vice-President for Fred. I approve.

    Vote Fred Thompson 2008 and 2012!!!

    September 7, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  12. John, Ca.

    Huckabee would appear to be the REAL conservative here. Let's see if this johnny-come-lately has the courage to accept the offer.

    It is surprising to me that more conservatives have not gravitated to Huckabee with all of the wannabe conservatives in the race.

    Edwards in 2008

    September 7, 2007 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  13. John Thomas Edina, MN

    A Thompson Hucabee ticket would do very well!

    September 7, 2007 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  14. Sean Beaverton, OR

    Way to go, Mike. This will be great for him.

    September 7, 2007 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  15. kellie, Providence, RI

    Thompson should get the nomination!
    We need a Democrat in the White House...

    September 7, 2007 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  16. JB Hull, IA

    Go get 'em Huckabee!!! I'd LOVE to see more one-on-one debates, in the democratic primary as well. I think they would give voters a much better idea of why they should vote for one person over another

    September 7, 2007 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  17. Adam Weinberg, Winston-Salem, NC

    What would they debate–Which one of them has more honor?

    I'd much rather see a Fred Thompson vs. Ron Paul debate.

    This is, of course, because I have no doubt in my mind that Ron Paul would wipe the floor with Fred Thompson.

    September 7, 2007 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  18. Jon, Cincinnati, Ohio

    You can bet that, as straight a shooter as Fred Thompson is, he will be answering the call on that one.

    September 7, 2007 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  19. John from America

    Fred doesn't care about people's concern – he wants to get elected to enrich himself and his friends! Fred is as big a phony as they come!

    September 7, 2007 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  20. Bill B. Marion Iowa

    We know who Fred Thompson is.
    Who is Mike Huckabee? Who does he think he is?Do we really need another candidate from Arkansas? 🙂

    September 7, 2007 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  21. Fred Thompson Fan, Buffalo NY

    Mike Huckabee aka "The Huckster" is jealous of the press Fred Thompson gets, he should instead of slandering Fred should have a one on one debate with Him as Fred Thompson suggested on the Tonight show, Fred will send the Huckster away with his tail between his legs after he debates Huckabee one on one!

    Fred Thompson Forum

    September 8, 2007 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  22. Pixie, Murfreesboro, TN

    Sounds fair to me. Hollywood Fred has been quick to offer up sound bytes but when pressed on specifics of any issue, he evades, dodges and obfuscates. It would be nice to see exactly where he fits in on the totem pole of insanity.

    September 8, 2007 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  23. Erik, Austin TX

    I have no love for Huckabee, but I applaud him for calling Thompson's bluff on this one. There's no way any modern politician, especially Thompson, would really want an hour long single-issue debate, because they don't have enough pithy sound bites to fill an hour on one topic.

    This debate will almost certainly never happen, and I applaud Huckabee for having the balls to call Thompson out on his rhetoric.

    September 8, 2007 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  24. John Thomas, Edina, MN

    Why don't you debate Ron Paul, Huckleberry? Oh yeah, that's right; he'd take you to school like he already did.

    September 8, 2007 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
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